Avalanche-injured Prince may not recover from brain damage

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Doctors treating Dutch Prince Johan Friso say he suffered major brain damage after being buried by an avalanche last week and he may never regain consciousness.

Austrian medic Wolfgang Koller said it took nearly 50 minutes to reanimate the prince. MRI scans showed his brain suffered “massive damage” in the avalanche in Lech on February 17. He was buried under the snow for about 15 minutes.

The 43-year-old prince will be moved at a later date to a private clinic for further treatment but it may take years before he awakens, if ever.

Prince Johan is the second son of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix. He is married to Princess Mabel and they have two young daughters, Luana and Zaria.

Dr Koller, head of trauma at the Innsbruck hospital where the prince is being treated, was addressing a news conference which was broadcast live on Dutch national television. He said: “It is clear that the oxygen starvation has caused massive brain damage to the patient. At the moment, it cannot be predicted if he will ever regain consciousness.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the Queen and Princess Mabel by telephone that “the Netherlands is sympathising intensely with the family in these times of concern and sorrow,” according to a statement.