Doctors warn next few weeks key to Ferguson’s long-term prospects

Doctors warn next few weeks are key to Sir Alex Ferguson’s long-term recovery prospects after Manchester United legend’s emergency surgery to treat brain haemorrhage

  • Sir Alex Ferguson was admitted to the Salford Royal Hospital on Saturday 
  • He had emergency surgery and the 76-year-old is now in a stable condition 
  • Doctors have warned recovery over next month will define long-term prospects
  • Managers Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger also paid tribute to Ferguson

Doctors have warned that the next few weeks of Sir Alex Ferguson’s recovery are integral to his long-term prospects.

The iconic former Manchester United manager was admitted to Salford Royal Hospital, one of the country’s best neurological centres, and had emergency surgery on Saturday.

Ferguson, 76, is now in a stable condition after being treated for a brain haemorrhage following a fall at home.

Doctors have warned the next few weeks of Sir Alex Ferguson’s recovery are key

 The 76-year-old had surgery after being admitted to hospital for a brain haemorrhage, just days after being pictured alongside old rival Arsene Wenger at Old Trafford

Ferguson is in the Salford Royal Hospital — one of the best neurological centres in the UK


Sir Alex Ferguson is believed to have suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage, which can be confused for a stroke and causes similar speech loss and paralysis.

Often caused by smoking and uncontrolled high blood pressure, it kills about one in five people immediately. Another third are left so disabled that they need permanent 24-hour care.

However, between a third and a half of people make a full recovery, returning to a normal quality of life in just a few months.

Ranjeev Bhangoo, a consultant neurosurgeon at King’s College Hospital in London, said: ‘The prognosis all depends on what Sir Alex was like before the bleed happened.’

He added: ‘If he had only a headache and a reasonably good level of consciousness, with no weakness in his arms or legs, the prognosis is reasonably good. If he had greatly diminished consciousness and severe weakness, then the chances of making a good recovery are a lot less.’

A haemorrhage is a bleed between the skull and surface of the brain, which usually starts with a sudden ‘thunderclap’ headache so painful that many people lose consciousness.

The next 48 hours are understood to be key in terms of assessing the impact of the haemorrhage.

But doctors have also warned that his recovery over the coming month will define the long-term consequences of the haemorrhage.

Neurosurgeon Peter Hamlyn wrote in the Telegraph: ‘The most common form (of haemorrhage) for a man of his age with a history of cardiovascular issues… is intracerebral, in which there is bleeding within the brain tissue, causing irreparable damage to those cells.

‘In Sir Alex’s case, his surgeons have decided to operate almost certainly because they felt the size of the blood clot was causing damage to the remaining brain tissue. This is often life-saving surgery and aims to reduce any long-term disability Sir Alex might suffer with this form of stroke.

‘For the first few days after the operation, the focus is on the patient’s life support. A prognosis is very hard to give in the first days and often for some weeks.

‘If they survive without signs of improvement after several months, then it is unlikely that an individual will return to their former health. However, in the immediate aftermath there is everything to fight for and the potential for a full recovery, albeit sometimes after a long period of rehabilitation.’

Doctor Mark Porter added in the Times: ‘The classic story in one type — subarachnoid haemorrhage, which accounts for 1 in 20 strokes in the UK — is a sudden-onset severe headache, often described as feeling like you have been hit on the head with a club. 

‘Time is of the essence in treating any type of stroke. Once suspected, the diagnosis is confirmed using a CT scan and where indicated, the patient taken to theatre to stop bleeding and release pressure on the brain.

‘The outlook depends on the severity and site of the bleed but as many as half of patients with subarachnoid bleeds will not survive, and a similar proportion of those who do will be left with some form of long-term compliaction, ranging from memory loss and speech difficulties to epilepsy and paralysis.

‘Further bleeding over the days, weeks and months afterwards is a risk too’.  

Neurosurgeon Peter Hamlyn (left) said of someone in Sir Alex’s condition: ‘A prognosis is very hard to give in the first days and often for some weeks’; Dr Mark Porter said the outlook for the former United manager ‘depends on the severity and site of the bleed’

Ferguson’s condition has stunned football. Pele, Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri posted messages on social media.

The depth of feeling was illustrated in a tweet from United’s official account which said: ‘Please. Be strong. Win this one.’

Fans have left flowers by Ferguson’s statue at Old Trafford, while others visited the club’s chapel to pray for him. 

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: ‘I was with him on the pitch last week and I went to see him in the box after the game. He looked in a perfect shape.

‘We wish him well and that he recovers quickly. He is a strong and optimistic man.’ 

Ferguson was a rare absentee from United’s game against Brighton on Friday evening.

Ferguson attended the Champions League quarter-final between Roma and Barcelona in April

Under his guidance United won 13 Premier Leagues, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups

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