JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela is being kept alive by a breathing machine and faces "impending death," court documents show, as his family gravesite was restored Thursday.
Mandela's health is "perilous" and he is being kept alive by life support, according to documents filed in the court case that resulted in the remains of the former president's three deceased children being reburied Thursday in their original graves.
"The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds," the court filing said.
Mandela, who was hospitalized June 8, remains in critical but stable condition, according to the office of President Jacob Zuma, who visited the anti-apartheid leader on Thursday. The president's office also said doctors denied reports that 94-year-old Mandela is in a "vegetative state."
A younger person put on mechanical ventilation — life support — can be weaned off the machine and recover, but that can be difficult or impossible for an older person. The longer a person is on ventilation the less the chance of recovery, said the chief executive of the Faculty of Consulting Physicians of South Africa.
"It indicates a very poor prognosis for recovery because it means that he's either too weak or too sick to breathe on his own," said Dr. Adri Kok, who has no connection to Mandela's care. "Usually if a person does need that, any person, not keeping in mind his age at all, for any person it would be indicative of a grave illness."