Doctors have advised Nelson Mandela’s family that his life support should be turned off because he was in a “permanent vegetative state”, reports a British newspaper, quoting court documents.
The revelation from members of the icon’s family came as part of a family dispute over the graves of three of his children.
The Daily Mail reported, quoting court documents, that doctors had advised Mandela’s family that his life support should be turned off because he was in a “permanent vegetative state”.
Doctors treating former president Nelson Mandela have denied that he is in a vegetative state, the presidency said on Thursday.
"We confirm our earlier statement released this afternoon after President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba in hospital that Madiba remains in a critical, but stable condition," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
He said Mandela was under the care of a "multi-disciplinary" panel of medical experts drawn from the SA Military Health Services, the public and private sectors and universities.
"Under this panel, a team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health professionals attend to Madiba on a 24-hour basis."
The statement from the presidency came after court documents surfaced stating that Mandela was in a "permanent vegetative state" and that his family had been advised to turn off his life support machine.
Anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg has confirmed that former president Nelson Mandela is not in a vegetative state, as claimed in recent court papers.
"He is clearly a very ill man, but he was conscious and he tried to move his mouth and eyes when I talked to him," Denis Goldberg, one of the men who was convicted with Mandela, told AFP.
"He is definitely not unconscious," Goldberg said, adding that "he was aware of who I was".
Goldberg said he was asked by Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, to pay him a visit "just to give him mental stimulation".
With reports that it will depend on his family how long Nelson Mandela will remain on life support, a specialist said on Thursday that it was almost impossible to wean an elderly person off a ventilator.
The longer a person is on ventilation the less the chance of recovery, Dr Adri Kok, who has no connection to Mandela's care, told AP.
"It indicates a very poor prognosis for recovery because it means that he's either too weak or too sick to breathe on his own," Kok said.
"Usually if a person does need that, any person, not keeping in mind his age at all, for any person it would be indicative of a grave illness."