Life after death? Hosni Mubarak regaining consciousness

Hosni Mubarak has suffered a host of ailments since being ousted from power in January last year and was brought to his trial on a stretcher. (AP)

Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak’s condition is stable and he is reportedly regaining consciousness, according to an Al Arabiya correspondent in Cairo.

Earlier reports from Egyptian military sources in the early hours of Wednesday said the former leader was close to death, conflicting previous state news agency reports that he was “clinically dead.”

The 84-year-old is said to have had a stroke and was moved from prison to life support in an army hospital, where he is believed to be in a coma and on life support, according to Egyptian military sources.

The next 72 hours will be critical but he could survive, said the source. However, he may not regain all his intellectual and physical capacities and may have impaired concentration and vision due to a stroke.

Mubarak's sons, Gamal and Alaa, who are currently in prison awaiting trail, have been issued a permit allowing them to visit their father at Maadi Hospital. However, the time spent processing the permit may mean they do not arrive at the hospital until five or six o'clock Wednesday evening, added the source.

Egyptian Nile TV, a state-owned news channel, has reported that attempts continue to be made to revive Mubarak.

But they said he was not “clinically dead,” as briefly reported by the state news agency.

The former president has been portrayed as being in poor health by officials for the past year, arriving in court on a stretcher during a trial for his role in the killings of demonstrators who helped overthrow him during last year’s uprising. He was found guilty of the charges on June 2 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Since then, Mubarak’s legal team has been pressing to have him moved from the prison hospital to a better-equipped facility, saying he was not receiving adequate treatment for his condition. However, prison authorities previously refused to let him seek treatment elsewhere.

Doctors defibrillated Mubarak twice earlier this month, and there were reports saying he was suffering from bouts of depression, high blood pressure and shortness of breath.

On Tuesday evening, two security sources told Reuters news agency he had suffered a heart attack and stroke and was in a coma. They said he was finally to be moved to Cairo’s Maadi military hospital.

Shortly afterward, the state news agency, in a report echoed by a hospital source at Maadi, said Mubarak was “clinically dead” - a condition normally defined by the lack of heartbeat and breathing and one from which patients can be revived.

However, General Said Abbas, a member of the ruling military council, later told Reuters that, while Mubarak had suffered a stroke, “any talk of him being clinically dead is nonsense.”

Another military source said he was on life support: “He is completely unconscious. He is using artificial respiration.”

A third military source described the former leader as “almost stable,” without elaborating.

Meanwhile, a medical source told AFP news agency: “Mubarak is not clinically dead … He is in a coma and the doctors are trying to revive him.”

“He has been placed on an artificial respirator,” the source added, in an account that was confirmed by a member of Egypt’s ruling military council, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

Egypt’s state television carried a ticker item saying Mubarak was in “a coma and is not clinically dead.”

General Mamdouh Shaheen, of the military council, told CNN: “His health is deteriorating and he is in critical condition.”

Al Arabiya television said Mubarak’s wife Suzanne had arrived at Maadi hospital.

Private television al-Hayat broadcast video which it said was of Mubarak being moved. The images showed a patient on a stretcher being transferred from an ambulance into hospital.

There has been no clear statement from independent medical experts on what ails him, though state media has reported a variety of illnesses from shortage of breath to heart attacks.

Political backdrop

The news of his failing health comes against a backdrop of renewed tension over Egypt’s difficult transition, with both candidates in a key presidential vote that wrapped up on Sunday claiming victory in the poll.

The Muslim Brotherhood said their candidate Mohammed Mursi had won the run-off vote in the early hours of Monday morning, and on Tuesday provided what they said were certified copies of ballot tallies to bolster their claims.

But Mursi’s rival Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, has also claimed a victory, with his campaign accusing the Brotherhood of issuing false figures and insisting official results scheduled Thursday will declare him president.

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