Report: Hospital denies Michael Schumacher has died

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Doctors treating legendary Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher at Grenoble University Hospital in France have been forced to take the unusual step of publicly denying his death after a spate of rumors spread across international social media channels such as Twitter.

“The hospital denies that Michael Schumacher has died,” a hospital spokesman said in a statement, according to The Mirror in the U.K.

The seven-time world champion suffered serious brain and other injuries when he crashed into rocks while on a skiing vacation Dec. 29.

Doctors have spent more than a week slowly weaning Schumacher off anesthetic that has kept him in an induced coma and unconscious since shortly after the skiing mishap.

Schumacher is under 24-hour care, continues to receive food through a tube to his stomach, and is breathing with aid of a ventilator because he has been unable to breathe on his own.

While the weaning has gone as planned, doctors are particularly focused on making sure Schumacher does not contract pneumonia, which is a significant risk given that he cannot swallow on his own, allowing saliva to seep into his lungs and cause potential infection that could prove fatal.

“About 30 to 50 percent of all patients who lie in a coma as long as Michael Schumacher has get (pneumonia),” Andreas Pingel, medical director of the Centre for Spine Surgery and Neuro-Traumatology at BG Hospital in Germany told Focus Magazine.

The Mirror also reported Schumacher’s “blood is also thinned to prevent thrombosis and he is regularly turned and even stood straight up at times to keep blood flowing. He lies on a special air-filled mattress to prevent pressure sores and his urinary tract is under constant scrutiny because of the danger of waste bacteria entering the bloodstream and causing a potentially fatal infection.”

One bit of good news is that Schumacher’s age (45) and excellent physical condition will be a big help as his recovery continues. The biggest key is to eventually bring him out of the coma.

“(Schumacher’s brain cells will be) working together like a Formula One team,” neurosurgeon Dr. Munther Sabarini told The Mirror. “So if a driver shows weakness, then another driver takes over under the new situation. So it is with the brain cells.

“You can support brain function with a lot of resources so the healing process is accelerated and causes as little damage as possible. Typically high-energy bodily functions are shut down during a coma. Only after awakening can they be enabled again. The vital signs are observed and corrected.

“It is then up to the doctors to do a great deal; physiotherapy, mental care, treatment of new or old diseases. Depending on the aid required the patient receives medication – usually called neuro vitamins – but the measures applied vary strongly from case to case.

“After awakening one needs a few months to a few years to learn to overcome physical changes. Young and healthy people like Schumacher have better chances to recover from such a trauma.”

Friday’s news, the death rumors notwithstanding, was more positive than a Thursday report in The Mirror that claimed Schumacher could regress into a permanent vegetative state once he awakes from the induced coma.

“There is unfortunately the risk that in sneaking out of a deep artificial sleep the patient is then in a waking coma,” Hamburg professor Heinzpeter Moeck told The Mirror. “This could mean a permanent vegetative state where Schumacher would effectively be paralyzed.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”