Sharon's Health Declines

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's life is in danger after his condition deteriorated in the past two days, a stroke expert said on Monday.

He was taken Monday morning to an MRI check at the Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv.

The Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, where Sharon is being treated, released a statement late Sunday saying the former leader's kidneys were failing and that changes were detected in his brain membrane.

Sharon, 78, has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke in January.

The Sheba hospital said in a statement more tests were being run on the former leader to determine what had caused the change in his condition.

But a spokeswoman at the hospital refused to say whether Sharon's life was in danger.

Sharon, Israel's most popular politician, had a small stroke in December and was put on blood thinners before he suffered a severe brain hemorrhage in January.

The Israeli leader underwent several, extensive brain surgeries to stop the bleeding, and many independent experts doubted that he would ever recover.

The last surgery on Sharon, in April, was to reattach a part of his skull, removed during the emergency surgery to reduce pressure on his brain.

The reattachment was described as a necessary step before transferring Sharon to the long-term care facility at Sheba hospital.

Experts have said Sharon's chances of ever waking up after his massive stroke in January are not good.

Sharon personified Israel's military might for decades, and Israelis were stunned to see him felled by illness.

His stroke came after Sharon saw through his contentious plan to withdrawal Israel from the Gaza Strip after 38 years, and just two months after Sharon redrew the Israeli political map by leaving his hard-line Likud Party to form the centrist Kadima faction.

After the stroke, Sharon's successor as party leader, Ehud Olmert, led Kadima to victory in a March 28 vote and became prime minister.

Olmert's government is now embroiled in conflict on two fronts - in the south in Gaza and north in Lebanon.

Some Israelis have wondered how Sharon the lifelong military man would have handled the current crisis as opposed to the militarily inexperienced Olmert.