October 22, 2020

Doctors: Dutch prince suffered grave brain damage


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Dutch Prince Constantijn, Queen Beatrix, Princess Mabel wife of Prince Johan Friso and Prince Willem Alexander arrive at the main hospital in Innsbruck, western Austria, Friday, Feb 24, 2012

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch prince struck by an avalanche while skiing off-trail in Austria last week suffered massive brain damage and may never regain consciousness, his doctors said Friday.

Johan Friso, 43, is the second of Dutch Queen Beatrix’s three sons.

Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of trauma at the Innsbruck hospital where Friso is being treated, told a news conference broadcast live on Dutch national television that it took nearly 50 minutes to reanimate the prince after he was pulled from the snow. He had been buried for 25 minutes before rescuers found him.

“It is clear that the oxygen starvation has caused massive brain damage to the patient,” Koller said. “At the moment, it cannot be predicted if he will ever regain consciousness.”

Friso, who is married and has two young daughters, will be moved at a later date to a rehabilitation clinic for further treatment. But Koller cautioned that it may take years before he awakens from his coma, if he ever does, and any recovery from such significant brain damage is a process of “months or even years.”

The accident occurred as Friso was skiing off-piste in Lech, Austria, despite avalanche warnings, with a childhood friend from the alpine village that the Dutch royal family has been visiting each winter for years.

The friend was carrying an avalanche “air bag” and escaped without serious injury. Friso was found with the help of a signaling device he was carrying and flown by helicopter to the Innsbruck Clinic.

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