Dutch Prince in Coma After Being Trapped in Avalanche

February 24, 2012  

Dutch Prince Johan Friso, who was injured in an avalanche last week, is in a coma and may never regain consciousness, the BBC reported on Friday, quoting doctors treating him in Austria.

Prince Friso, who had been on a skiing holiday in the Austrian resort of Lech, lay buried under snow for about 15 minutes before being rescued, the report said. He was taken to hospital in Innsbruck after the accident.

The prince, 43, is the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. He is not in line for the throne, however, since he married in 2004 without the government’s permission.

He had been skiing with other people when the avalanche hit shortly after midday local time last Friday, resort officials told the BBC.

He was buried by an avalanche reportedly measuring about 30m wide by 40m long. A beeper he was wearing allowed rescuers to locate him quickly, but it had taken nearly 50 minutes to revive him.

“We cannot say today with certainty whether Prince Friso will one day regain consciousness,” Dr. Wolfgang Koller, who is head of the trauma unit at the hospital, was quoted by the BBC as having said.

“In any case, a neurological rehabilitation will be required that will take months, if not years,” he added, explaining that the prince’s brain had been deprived of oxygen due to the amount of time spent under the snow.

“This resulted in a heart attack that lasted about 50 minutes,” he said. “Fifty minutes of reanimation is very, very long, one might even say too long.”

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