Mandela's chances of surviving 'slim'

2013-07-04 22:18
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - With reports that it will depend on his family how long Nelson Mandela will remain on life support, a specialist said on Thursday that it was almost impossible to wean an elderly person off a ventilator.

Mandela has been in the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital since 8 June, when he was admitted with a recurring lung infection.

Court papers showed that Madiba is in a "permanent vegetative state" and that doctors suggested his life support should be turned off.

According to the chief executive of the Faculty of Consulting Physicians of South Africa, a younger person put on mechanical ventilation - life support - can be weaned off the machine and recover, but that it can be difficult or impossible for an older person.

The longer a person is on ventilation the less the chance of recovery, Dr Adri Kok, who has no connection to Mandela's care, told AP.

"It indicates a very poor prognosis for recovery because it means that he's either too weak or too sick to breathe on his own," Kok said.

"Usually if a person does need that, any person, not keeping in mind his age at all, for any person it would be indicative of a grave illness."

"When they [the family] say 'perilous' I think that would be a fair description," she said.

Graves saga

In Mandela's hometown, Qunu, on Thursday, the bodies of three of his children were returned to their original resting place following a court order.

Mandela is said to have indicated he wants to be buried in Qunu alongside his family.

Mlawu Tyatyeka, an expert on the Xhosa culture of Mandela's family, said the court case over the graves was decided quickly because the family knows that Mandela will soon die.

"It's not a case of wishing him to die. It's a case of making sure that by the time he dies, his dying wish has been fulfilled," he said. "We have a belief that should you ignore a dying wish, all bad will befall you."

AP reported that Mandela's wife said the former president is sometimes uncomfortable but seldom in pain while being treated in a hospital.

Graça Machel spoke about her husband's condition at a fundraising drive for a children's hospital on Thursday.

"Whatever is the outcome of his stay in hospital, that will remain the second time where he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our constitution," she said.

Denis Goldberg, one of the men who was convicted with Mandela, told AFP after visiting him on Monday: "He is clearly a very ill man, but he was conscious and he tried to move his mouth and eyes when I talked to him."

"He is definitely not unconscious," he said adding that "he was aware of who I was."

Goldberg said he was asked by Machel to pay him a visit "just to give him mental stimulation."

According to a statement on Thursday by President Jacob Zuma's office, Mandela “remains in critical but stable condition”.

Zuma visited Mandela on Thursday, said the statement.

Read more on:    denis goldberg  |  nelson mandela  |  mandla mandela  |  graca machel
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