Peres's doctor says 'he squeezed my hand' and listened

Published: 14th September 2016 12:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2016 12:49 PM   |  A+A-


The personal doctor and son-in-law of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, who has suffered a major stroke, said Wednesday "he squeezed my hand and was definitely listening" during treatment overnight.

Speaking to AFP outside the hospital near Tel Aviv where Peres is being treated, Raphy Walden said the 93-year-old elder statesman was initially admitted to hospital on Tuesday as a precaution.

"Yesterday, Mr Peres in his office delivered a remarkable speech for about an hour to a very enthusiastic audience," he said.

"Then he had vague ill feelings, and just to be on the safe side he was taken to hospital for examination. In the hospital he suffered a stroke, with a relative loss of consciousness and other neurological symptoms."

A CT scan revealed a stroke on the right side of his brain. He was then ventilated and sedated.

When his sedation was lessened overnight, Peres was responsive, Walden said.

"When we lessened the sedation, he woke up -- not completely but definitely was responsive to our appeals to him.

"He squeezed my hand and was definitely listening and understanding what was happening."

Walden said afterwards "we sedated him again just to keep him as quiet and peaceful as possible so as to enable the brain to recover."

He described Peres as "in a better condition than last night." Another attempt to lessen his sedation will be made in the afternoon, with an update expected around 4:00 pm (1300 GMT).

"There is no immediate threat to his life," Walden said.

"The neurological condition, nobody can tell what will be the outcome but we are keeping the optimism ... I can’t really say full recovery, but we are keeping optimistic and hoping for the best."

The last of Israel's founding fathers, Peres has held nearly every major office in the country, including prime minister twice and president, a mostly ceremonial post, from 2007 to 2014.

A former hawk turned dove, the highlight of his career came in 1994, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords with the Palestinians.

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