Michael Schumacher today greets his 45th birthday coupled to a life support machine at the CHU Hospital in Grenoble.
Outside the hospital a silent vigil has been organised by Ferrari, the team with whom he won 72 Grands Prix and 5 world championships. Beginning at 11am local time, fans and club members attending the vigil are being encouraged to dress in red and bring flags.
The vigil will bring together Ferrari club members from France and Italy in particular.
Ferrari’s Renato Bisignani told the BBC that the vigil would be “a sign of our closeness to Michael Schumacher, done in a very respectful way”
He added: “This is all about our fans and we will make sure we remain sensitive at this difficult time for Michael Schumacher.”
Messages of support are being posted all the time by fans and former colleagues on social media.
Schumacher is now coming up to 120 hours after sustaining his head injury in a skiing accident on Sunday morning. Medical experts commenting in the media this week have indicated that normally in this kind of accident, 96 hours after the impact is the crucial milestone to pass through to reduce the threat of danger to life. After that the threat to life normally reduces significantly.
But the bulletins from the hospital this week have insisted that caution is required. A second operation was necessary on Monday night to reduce the pressure in his brain and although Schumacher is putting up a dogged fight, he remains “stable but critical” in the eyes of the doctors treating him. Schumacher’s manager, former journalist Sabine Kehm, has said that there will only be updates when there is something new to report.
Once they are satisfied that the risk to life has reduced, the next thing to look out for is doctors deciding to lessen the sedation keeping him in a coma, to bring him out of it. After that they will hope that at some point in the next two weeks he will wake up and they will then be able to monitor his brain for signs of damage.
Further problems arise if the patient does not wake up within three weeks, according to medical experts monitoring the case.
A statement issued by Schumacher’s family said: “We all know he is a fighter and will not give up.”