Nelson Mandela: Stable but Critical


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"The health of the former President remains much the same ... which is stable but critical while Madiba continues to respond to treatment."

That was the crux of today's update from the South African government. The announcement followed President Jacob Zuma's visit to Mandela's home, where the former President has been recovering since being released from the hospital in September.

While the South African government has said little about Mandela's condition, citing the need for privacy, his family members have disclosed information on several occasions.

Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told the Sunday Independent that he "remains quite ill." She said that he is unable to speak due to tubes in his mouth that are clearing fluid from his lungs. "The bedroom ... is like an ICU ward."

Madela's grandson, Mandla Mandela has also spoken to the press about his grandfather's medical condition. After visiting on Sunday, he said that Mandela "is still progressing steadily but very much under a critical condition."

Mandela has been receiving intensive home care since being released from a Pretoria hospital on September 1. He was originally hospitalized for a lung infection, a condition that has plagued him for years and is thought to stem from time spent in damp concrete cells during his 27-year prison sentence that lasted from the early 1960s to the late 1980s.

Other theories postulate that Mandela's lungs were damaged while working in a lime quarry at the Robben Island prison, where he served 18 years of his sentence under notoriously poor conditions.

At one point during his imprisonment, Mandela contracted tuberculosis.

The South African government's update on Mandela's health coincides with the opening of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, official home of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg.

In his speech at today's opening ceremony, President Zuma paid Mandela highest regards:

“Housed at this Centre are some of the most important heritage resources that chronicle the life and times of our founding father – and icon – of our democratic nation, Tata Nelson Mandela. These resources are an integral part of our nation’s heritage, in particular our liberation heritage. They are our nation’s treasures and they indeed need to be preserved."

Image via Wikimedia Commons