Michael Schumacher, the record seven-time Formula One world champion, was in stable condition in a French hospital today as he recovers from a head injury sustained while skiing, according to his spokeswoman.
Doctors in Grenoble described his condition as critical yesterday after he underwent a second operation to reduce pressure in his skull. The doctors said that, while there was some improvement, it was too early to make a prognosis for the 44-year-old German, who was placed in an artificial coma.
Schumacher’s condition “remained stable over the night and also now,” and was “good news,” the spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm, said today in a press conference televised from outside the CHU Grenoble hospital. She said there would be no briefings by doctors on his recovery today unless his condition changed.
The former racing driver suffered contusions to the brain as well as hemorrhaging when he crashed Dec. 29, his doctors said. Schumacher fell and struck his head on a rock while skiing on unmarked and ungroomed slopes in Meribel. He would have died had he not been wearing a helmet, the doctors said.
Schumacher first underwent emergency brain surgery at the hospital three nights ago. A scan following the second procedure on Dec. 30 showed a “slight” reduction in pressure on his brain, Jacqueline Hubert, the hospital’s director, said at a hospital news conference with doctors yesterday.
“The situation is more controlled” than the previous day, Jean-Francois Payen, head of the hospital’s anesthesia department, said during yesterday’s briefing. “We can’t say he’s out of danger, but we’ve gained a bit of time.”
The second operation took place around 10 p.m. local time on Dec. 30 and lasted about two hours, said Emmanuel Gay, the hospital’s chief neurosurgeon.
“There is still blood, there are still hematoma everywhere,” Gay said. “It’s a major cranial trauma.”
Schumacher won Formula One titles with the Benetton team in 1994 and 1995 and took five consecutive championships with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004. He left Formula One after the 2012 campaign following a three-season comeback.
Schumacher initially quit auto racing in 2006 as the world’s highest-earning athlete, with salary and endorsements of $58 million, according to Sports Illustrated magazine.
In 2009, he called off a temporary comeback to the sport because of neck pain lingering from a motorcycle accident. Schumacher then returned to Formula One in 2010 with the Mercedes GP team. While he won 91 races in his career, he failed to win any during his comeback. During his final season, Schumacher raced against five other world champions, all of whom were at least 10 years younger.
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