Nelson Mandela is fighting for his life after his condition deteriorated Sunday, more than two weeks after he entered a South African hospital.
The nation’s former president, known affectionately by his clan name, “Madiba,” has spent much of June battling a stubborn lung infection that has left the 94-year-old severely ill. He’s now in critical condition after spending time in serious but stable condition.
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"The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable,” President Jacob Zuma said in a release. “He is in good hands.”
A report Saturday indicated Mandela was in serious condition, but his “condition has become critical over the past 24 hours,” the presidency’s office wrote in a statement.
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The news comes days after CBS News reported that Mandela’s liver and kidneys were “functioning at 50%” following a procedure to repair an ulcer.
“We're told he hasn't opened his eyes in days and is unresponsive,” CBS reported. “We also understand that Mandela family members are discussing just how much medical intervention is enough for an old and very sick man.”
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The night Mandela was rushed to a hospital in Pretoria, he went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. That hectic trip included an ambulance breakdown that forced the sickened Mandela to the side of the road as a working ambulance rushed to the rescue.
Family and friends have said publicly Mandela is on the mend, but Sunday’s statement sent a grave message.
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“President Zuma has appealed to the nation and the world to pray for Madiba, the family and the medical team that is attending to him during this difficult time,” it read.
The leader of the fight against South Africa’s racist apartheid system, Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and elected his country’s first black president in 1994.