Dutch Prince Coma: Johan Friso Shows 'Minimal Consciousness' After Avalanche; Wife Princess Mabel Releases Statement

By Amanda Remling on November 19, 2012 3:23 PM EST

Prince Johan Friso And Family
Prince Johan pictured in 2010 with his family. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dutch Prince Johan Friso has been in a coma since being buried in an avalanche on Feb. 17 while out skiing in the Austrian Alps. Buried under snow for 20 minutes, the 43-year-old Prince suffered brain damage so severe that doctors warned the Dutch Royal Family that he may never regain consciousness. Prince Johan Friso's family has now made their first public update since late March.

The Royal Family had received thousands of messages of sympathy and support following Prince Friso's accident, and promised to give updates on "medically significant changes in the health situation of the Prince." On Nov. 19 the Government Information Service of the Netherlands did just that.

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In an announcement titled, "His Royal Highness Prince Friso, 19 November 2012," the Royal Family's website stated the following:

"Prince Friso has recently begun to show signs of limited awareness; a state commonly known as minimal consciousness. The prognosis continues to be very uncertain and the medical team remains gravely concerned. It will take many months to get more clarity."

Prince Friso had been skiing with a friend on Feb. 17 when an estimated wall of snow 30 meters wide and 40 meters long fell on him during an avalanche. At the time of the accident, Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of trauma at Innsbruck Hospital, stated that the oxygen starvation caused by being buried in the snow caused "massive brain damage." 

In March Prince Friso was transferred to a London hospital. According to Dutch News, the transfer from Innsbruck to London was due to not only specialists, but Prince Friso's family as well.

Married to Princess Mabel Wisse Smit since 2004, Friso and Princess Mabel share two daughters, Emma Luana and Joanna Zaria. The family resides in London, where Princess Mabel is currently the CEO of The Elders, an independent group that supports peace building.

Princess Mabel also used the announcement to express her thanks for the continued amount of support coming in.

"This is the most challenging period of my life," wrote Princess Mabel. "My love for Friso, the support of family and friends, and the many signs of compassion give me strength in these difficult times."

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