Jerusalem Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resumed breathing on his own and slightly moved his right hand and leg Monday as doctors began bringing him out of a medically induced coma five days after he suffered a serious stroke, a hospital official said.
Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah Hospital, said that as the dosage was lowered, Sharon responded to pain stimulation several times with a slight movement of his right hand and leg.
Mor-Yosef said that as soon as the doctors began reducing the anesthetics, Sharon resumed breathing on his own. "Although he is still connected to respirators that help him, the prime minister is breathing independently," he said.
Dr. Felix Umansky, the chief surgeon who operated on Sharon, said that his responses to the pain stimulation are a "very important" development, but it is too early to evaluate possible mental impairment caused by the stroke.
The hemorrhage was on the right side of Sharon's brain, which controls movement on the left side of the body. Doctors did not say whether they tried to stimulate those limbs.
In a first significant policy decision since Sharon was incapacitated, Israeli authorities allowed Palestinian candidates to campaign in East Jerusalem ahead of parliamentary elections on Jan. 25, reversing an earlier ban. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said elections would go on as planned after he received U.S. assurances that Arab residents of Jerusalem would be permitted to vote in the city.