THE condition of Michael Schumacher is "stable", which is "good news", the manager of the seven-time Formula One champion has said.
Speaking to journalists yesterday in front of the Grenoble university hospital, Sabine Kehm said Mr Schumacher had had a stable night and morning after the second operation on his serious head injuries on Tuesday morning.
"His condition remains stable this morning. At the moment this is good news but I don't want to go into further prospects as it is too early. He is still in an artificial coma," said Ms Kehm. There would not be a full press conference attended by doctors, she said, until there was a significant change in the retired German driver's condition.
Doctors performed two operations on the 44-year-old late on Monday night and early on Tuesday, improving the condition of the former Formula One champion but leaving his hopes of recovery uncertain.
Mr Schumacher's helmet split in two and he suffered a fractured skull and multiple brain lesions. Surgeons had to drill holes into his skull to remove liquid that had accumulated between the cranium and brain tissue. The presence of the helmet may have saved Mr Schumacher's life but he is still at risk of memory loss, epilepsy and paralysis as liquids, including blood, could still be blocking his spinal chord.
He is being maintained in an artificially induced coma to allow time for the bruising and swelling in his brain to ease.
Mr Schumacher fell, striking his head on a rock, while skiing at 6,800 feet in deep snow between two official pistes at Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday morning.
Ms Kehm has denied suggestions that Mr Schumacher, who was skiing with his 14-year-old son Mick and a group of friends, had been taking risks. "They were skiing on pistes, but in the moment that it (the accident) happened, it was not on the piste," she said, adding that Mr Schumacher appeared to have struck a hidden rock and had been thrown against another rock.
Gerard Saillant, a top French neurosurgeon, said the decision to operate for a second time had been taken after consulting his family. It is understood his wife, Corinna, his 14-year-old son Michael Jr, his daughter Gina-Maria, his brother Ralf - also a former racing driver - and father Rolf are all at the hospital. "We can't say we've won yet," Prof Saillant said. "There are highs and lows."
The French state prosecutor in Albertville has opened an investigation to try to discover the cause of the accident.
One emergency worker said: "When we got there, Schumacher's helmet was broken and we saw a lot of blood."
Skiers had been warned not to venture off-piste because of the danger of avalanches and rocks covered by fresh snow.