French doctors performed a successful operation to reduce bruising in the brain of Michael Schumacher late on Monday night, improving the condition of the former Formula One champion but leaving his hopes of recovery “fragile”, it was announced on Tuesday.
The update came as it emerged that a reporter dressed as a priest had tried to get into the racing driver’s hospital room.
Doctors at the Grenoble University Hospital said that a “brief improvement” in the German driver’s condition had given them a “window of medical opportunity” to carry out a two-hour operation to remove a “haematoma” or serious bruise from within Mr Schumacher’s brain.
“A scan this morning shows that this operation was performed with success and that his condition is now under better control,” said Dr Jean-Francois Payen, the anaesthetist in charge of the hospital intensive care unit.
Both he and the consultant neuro-surgeon Emmanuel Gay told a press conference that it was too early to predict whether Mr Schumacher, 44, would recover from his serious skiing accident on Sunday. They said that there were other areas of bruising within the ex-driving champion’s brain. They were smaller than the haematoma removed on Monday night but more inaccessible.
Earlier it emerged that Mr Schumacher’s helmet had split into two parts in the accident on Sunday.
Medical experts said that the next 48 hours would decide whether the retired German racing driver would survive or recover partially or completely. Professor Denis Safran of the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris said that it was notoriously difficult to predict the consequences of the kind of injuries, including internal brain lesions, suffered by Mr Schumacher.
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
1/17 February 2006
Michael Schumacher is seen in the pits during a training session at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Cheste near Valencia in 2006
2/17 November 1994
Hugging two team mechanics in delight for becoming World Champion Driver after the Australian Grand Prix at the Adelaide circuit in November 1994
3/17 October 1995
Flavio Briatore carries a jubilant Michael after he wins the Pacific F1 Grand Prix at Aida in Japan, and wins his second World Drivers Championshp
4/17 February 1996
Schmacher pushes his Ferrari back to the pits after engine trouble left him stranded at the entrance of the pitlane during pre-season testing at Estoril, Portugal
5/17 March 1996
During the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
6/17 March 1997
Michael Schumacher in the pit lane during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia
7/17 October 2000
Celebrating on the podium after winning the formula one world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Japan
8/17 July 2006
Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari leads the pack into the first corner at the start of the French Formula One Grand Prix at the Nevers Magny-Cours Circuit
Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images
9/17 October 2010
Michael Schumacher drives during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit
Clive Mason/Getty Images
10/17 October 2011
Michael Schumacher and Mercedes GP waves to the crowd as he attends the drivers parade before the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit on October 30, 2011 in Noida, India
11/17 December 2011
Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher celebrate after winning the Nations Cup at day one of the race of champions event at the Esprit Arena
12/17 June 2012
Michael Schumacher drives at the Valencia Street Circuit on June 22, 2012 in Valencia during the first practice race of the European Formula One Grand Prix
13/17 September 2012
Michael Schumacher crashes into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in September 2012
14/17 November 2012
Schumacher drives in his last race during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
15/17 December 2013
Deputy director Jean Marc Grenier talks to media outside the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps
16/17 December 2013
Members of the staff are seen outside the emergency services at the CHU Nord hospital in Grenoble, French Alps; this is the hospital where retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is reported to be hospitalized after a ski accident
17/17 December 2013
A Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher fan waits, on December 29, in Grenoble, in front of the emergency department of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire hospital
“He could die. He could have serious lasting effects such as paralysis or loss of understanding or he could recover completely,” the professor said.
Not long after the press conference Grenoble, it emerged that a news reporter dressed up as a priest to attempt to gain access to Michael Schumacher’s hospital room where he is currently battling for his life after a skiing accident, the Formula One champion’s manager Sabine Kehm revealed.
It seems that one reporter had made the startling decision to ignore the wishes of both Ms Kehm and the doctors to respect the Schumacher family’s privacy in what is a desperate time.
Speaking to German newspaper Die Welt, Ms Kehm said: “Apparently, a journalist disguised as a priest has tried to get access to Michael’s room.
“This is something I would not have thought possible. As soon as his disguise was recognised, he was expelled from the hospital.”
The number of media personnel outside the hospital has risen to over 100 since Mr Schumacher’s arrival at the hospital on Sunday.
The widespread coverage is a clear indicator of the shock that Schumacher’s condition has had on the world, with the 44-year-old being constantly monitored by medical staff while his chances of survival are being rated on an hour-by-hour basis.
Those with cameras outside the hospital have agreed not to direct them at the emergency room or the window of the room which they believe Schumacher to be kept in.