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Hospital: Sharon taken to intensive care

Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since January.

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Ariel Sharon
Israel
Ehud Olmert

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was transferred to the intensive care unit of Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Sharon was taken to ICU because bacteria was detected in his blood, the spokeswoman said.

Sharon, 77, has been comatose since suffering a massive stroke in January.

"Ariel Sharon's condition has remained stable in the last couple of days, and there is no deterioration to the condition of his brain," the hospital said in a statement.

"He is being treated with intravenous antibiotics because of a bacteria detected in his blood.

"Due to excessive edema, the doctors have decided to start hemofiltration treatment in order to remove the excessive fluids from his body. The treatment will take place over the next few days in the ICU," the statement said.

On Sunday, doctors reported a worsening in the functioning of his kidney and a change in brain tissue, the hospital spokeswoman said.

When Sharon was moved to Sheba, a long-term care facility, in May, Dr. Zeev Rotstein, head of the center, told reporters, "We are expecting a difficult treatment because in his condition complications are expected. We will treat him as best we can. It is not a short-term treatment. We are talking about long-term treatment."

Sharon, nicknamed "The Bulldozer" for his stamina during meetings and long working hours, is a former army general and larger-than-life personality in Israel. He was first elected prime minister in 2001 and re-elected in 2003. (Timeline)

Just before his massive stroke, Sharon had broken from the Likud Party that he helped found to start the Kadima Party. Many members of Likud frowned on Sharon's decision to withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

Three months after his stroke, Sharon was declared permanently incapacitated by the Israeli Cabinet, formally ending his premiership.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took over the post officially when a new government was formed.

Sharon is twice widowed and has two sons.

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