One year ago on Sunday Dutch Prince Friso, second son of Queen Beatrix and younger brother to Holland's King-in-waiting Willem-Alexander, suffered a near fatal accident on the Alpine slopes near Lech in Austria. He was hit by an avalanche and has since been in coma. The Dutch royals this week returned to the ski resort they have come to love for so many years. Together they will mark the tragic anniversary.
The condition of Price Friso, who since has been transported to a London hospital, has not improved. In his statement which shocked the Dutch, Dr Wolfgang Koller of Innsbruck's University Hospital explained why.
Prince Friso was brought to Innsbruck University hospital by rescue helicopter at about 14:00 on 17 February 2012, after being buried by an avalanche in Lech. He was covered for approximately 25 minutes. At the hospital, after receiving initial treatment in the reanimation unit, he was taken straight to the intensive care trauma unit. This unit specialises in treating the most seriously injured avalanche patients with the utmost medical and technical expertise. The unit’s head is Dr. Wolfgang Koller.
"Our unit was notified of the patient’s imminent arrival and we were able to prepare everything in advance. Prince Friso was brought to the hospital under reanimation conditions. Due to the length of time he was covered under the snow, his brain had been deprived of oxygen. The result was cardiac arrest, which lasted approximately 50 minutes.
The patient had to be reanimated during this entire period. Fifty minutes is a very long time. One could say, too long. We hoped that the patient’s mild hypothermic state had sufficiently protected the brain against excessive damage. Unfortunately, our hope was in vain.
Since last Friday, a team of specialists has been fighting to save Prince Friso’s life. Yesterday, a first MRI-scan was possible, without bringing the patient into danger. Since this examination and the latest neurological tests yesterday evening it is clear that the oxygen deprivation has caused extensive damage to the patient’s brain.
At present it is not certain whether he will ever regain consciousness. In any event, rehabilitation will take months, if not years. Prince Friso’s family will now look for an appropriate rehabilitation facility. © RB Hans Jacobs, with RVD; Photos by © RB