Although Michael Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm issued a statement on Friday saying simply that “Michael is still in the wake-up phrase. The situation has not changed,” the Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pino Allievi has written that the German is now breathing by himself without a respirator and doctors believe that he is hearing the voices of his friends, among them FIA president Jean Todt and Ross Brawn. Todt is apparently speaking to his friend in English, as he did in their successful Ferrari days.
Schumacher remains in a coma nine weeks after the skiing accident which gave him a severe head injury requiring two operations to open his skull to relieve the pressure of his brain swelling.
There has been little news for three weeks, since it was announced that doctors in the hospital in Grenoble to which he was taken on December 30th, were trying to wake him.
Kehm has kept a tight lid on information and has said on several occasions, “Any medical information published which is not confirmed by the team of doctors treating Michael or his management has to be considered as not valid.”
But, while respecting this and being cautious, this intervention in Italy is worth noting.
But today, Allievi, Italy’s most influential and best connected F1 journalist has written some details of Schumacher’s treatment and condition, the main one being that he is breathing unaided.
Todt and Brawn have stayed very close to the situation and to the family. Todt in particular is in constant contact even when not at the hospital. His close friend Prof Gerard Saillant is overseeing the care of the seven times world champion and reports to him several times a day. This I know from personal experience having visited Todt for an interview for the Financial Times last week. He also told me that “You will write another book on Michael. And I will write the Foreword,” referring to the 1997 and 2007 books I wrote about Schumacher.
Allievi does not reveal the source of his information in the article, but it is sound, and has details of movements Schumacher has made; occasional twitches of an arm, a hand, a finger. His wife Corinna is by his side constantly. Brawn apparently plays recordings of pit to car radio from their times racing together, “because Michael needs to string together the threads of his life, voices and sounds.”
None of this means that he will recover. No-one knows when- or even if – Schumacher will wake up. And if he does whether he will have any quality of life at all.
But all those around him are doing everything they can and above all are continuing to hope.