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World - Middle East

King Hussein could stay on life support for weeks

February 6, 1999
Web posted at: 8:55 p.m. EST (0155 GMT)

In this story:

Stable condition

'He is not in a coma'


AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- The dying King Hussein of Jordan remained unconscious in a hospital Saturday, kept alive by a respirator after his kidneys and liver stopped functioning.

"It's hard to predict how long he's going to survive, but we're talking about days to weeks," said a member of the medical staff familiar with his condition.

"The life support is simply keeping him breathing with the help of the machine ... stabilizing his blood pressure and other vital signs," he said.

A candlelight vigil
Jordanians hold candles in a vigil outside the medical center where King Hussein is on a respirator  

King Hussein's eldest son, Crown Prince Abdullah, was sworn in as Jordan's regent Saturday, taking over the powers that the king can no longer exercise.

A source close to the royal family said relatives decided on Friday evening against turning off the life-support system that had sustained Hussein, 63, since he arrived back in the Jordanian capital earlier that day.

Hussein was flown back to Jordan from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, after his body rejected a bone marrow transplant. The king had been in the United States since January 26 for what his doctors said was a recurrence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Despite winter rain, about 400 Jordanians gathered outside the King Hussein Medical Center on Saturday, where the monarch lies gravely ill. His wife, Queen Noor, and four of his sons wandered through the crowd.

King Hussein
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  • CNN's Garrick Utley reports King Abdullah will be among the monarchs who hold political power
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  • For more video on King Hussein, click here
  • Stable condition

    The king was in stable condition, despite kidney and liver failure, and his heart and brain were functioning, said a statement by the monarch's private physician, Lt. Gen. Samir Farraj.

    A proposal by Queen Noor to move the king from the hospital to his nearby Bab al Salaam (Door of Peace) palace was abandoned after other family members objected to the idea, a government source said.

    A source close to the family said the king had requested before his return to Jordan that he be allowed to go home rather than remain in a hospital, but doctors had advised against it.

    "It was a joint family decision that his majesty remain in the hospital," said the source.

    'He is not in a coma'

    Jordan's ambassador to Washington, Marwan Muasher, who flew back with the king from the United States, disputed a description that Hussein was clinically dead.

    "He is not in a coma. He is on a respirator and he is heavily sedated," Muasher said, adding that the king had been unconscious for 48 hours

    "I think it is just too early to talk about switching the respirator off," he said. "His brain is still functioning properly and his heart is still very strong. The rest is in God's hands."

    Reuters contributed to this report.

    Prince Abdullah: The chosen ruler
    February 6, 1999
    Hussein's Queen of hearts: the woman who married a King
    February 6, 1999
    Jordanians: King's grave condition like 'the world falling apart'
    February 5, 1999
    King Hussein returning to Jordan after cancer treatment fails
    February 4, 1999
    Palestinians closely watch Jordan's power shift
    January 31, 1999
    Despite changes, Jordan an oasis of stability
    January 30, 1999
    Jordan's new crown prince meets with Arafat
    January 30, 1999

    The Office of King Hussein I of Jordan
    Mayo Clinic Health Oasis
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