Coma-stricken Dutch Prince can't be treated in homeland
The continuing tragic story of Prince Friso has another sad, ironic twist.
As attention turns to the long-term care of the Dutch royal — who remains in a coma after being buried in an avalanche Feb. 17 — it has been revealed that there is no facility in his native Netherlands that can even take care of him.
There is only one facility in The Netherlands for coma patients and it only takes patients under the age of 25. The Prince is 43.
“Brains develop until one is 25. After then there is no further renewal of the brain cells,” Vincent Buitendijk, director of the Libra care group in Tilburg, told the ANP news agency.
There is no facility for older coma patients because there is no health insurance to cover them, said Buitendijk. He said there could be an exception made, but limited government funding means it would be for only a short duration.
The Dutch Royal Family (at right, Prince Constantijn, Queen Beatrix, her sister Margriet Van Vollenhoven, his wife Princess Mabel and Prince Willlem-Alexander) have begun the process of how to ensure long-term care for the father of two young daughters. It has been speculated that the Prince would be moved from a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, to a rehabilitation clinic in the UK – where he has been living for eight years while working as a financier. Another possibility is a clinic in Liege, Belgium.
Dr. Andy Eynon, a consultant in neurosciences intensive care at Southampton Universities NHS Trust in the UK, told London’s Sunday Telegraph that it could take months to determine how well a patient with a severe brain injury might recover.
"You can't say somebody is in a persistent vegetative state until six months after an injury involving lack of oxygen to the brain, or 12 months after a trauma injury to the brain,” said Dr. Eynon.
However, doctors in Austria were not optimistic last week.
“At the moment, it can’t be predicted whether he’ll ever regain consciousness,” said Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of the trauma unit at the Innsbruck Medical University hospital.
Friso was skiing with a companion in the Austrian resort of Lech when he was buried by an avalanche for about 25 minutes before rescue.
“Due to the length of time he was covered under the snow, his brain was deprived of oxygen,” said Dr. Koller. “This led to cardiac arrest, which lasted about 50 minutes. The patient had to be reanimated during this entire period. Fifty minutes of reanimation is a very long time, one could say, too long.”