UPDATE: 8:52 A.M. EST 06/27/13:
According to President Jacob Zuma, Nelson Mandela’s health has improved.
Read statement below:
President Jacob Zuma visited former President Nelson Mandela in hospital in Pretoria today, 27 June, and was informed by the medical team that Madiba’s condition has improved during the course of the night. He remains critical but is now stable.“I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today so that I could see him and confer with the doctors. He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job. We must pray for Tata’s health and wish him well. We must also continue with our work and daily activities while Madiba remains hospitalised, ’’ President Zuma said.The Presidency is disturbed by the rumours that are being spread about former President Mandela’s health. We appeal for respect for the privacy and dignity of the former President.
UPDATE: 7:11 A.M. EST, 06/27/13:
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A daughter of Nelson Mandela says he is in very critical condition but is still opening his eyes and reacting to touch at the South African hospital where he is being treated.
Makaziwe Mandela told South Africa’s state broadcaster on Thursday that the former president and anti-apartheid leader is still giving the family hope, even though “anything is imminent.”
She says her family will wait with 94-year-old Mandela until “the time to go.”
From Senegal, President Barack Obama said, “Mandela is ‘a hero for the world. His legacy will linger on through the ages.”
UPDATE: 6:08 A.M. EST:
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has been kept on a life-support system following deterioration of his health condition at a South African hospital where the 94-year-old leader was admitted three weeks ago with a recurring lung infection.
“Ailing former President Nelson Mandela is on life support in the Pretoria Heart Clinic where he has been fighting a recurrent lung infection since June 8,” The Citizen’ newspaper reported.
According to the paper, five highly-placed sources close to the family, including two who had recently visited him in hospital, said that the iconic leader’s health has deteriorated to the point where he is breathing with the assistance of a life support ventilator.
The revelation came as a group of elders of the AbaThembu clan, to which critically ill Mandela belongs, will assess his condition during a visit to his hospital today to decide on a course of action, according to the daily The Times here.
Another source told the daily that Mandela is suffering from kidney failure and is undergoing renal dialysis for three hours every second day.
“He is critical, but has an entire team of doctors, from a cardiac specialist, pulmonary specialist, kidney specialist and a main consultant looking after him,” the source said, adding that the doctors have given the family the option to switch off the life support machines.
A meeting was called yesterday by Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe at his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province during which it was decided that that the elders and Mandela’s confidantes would visit Mandela at the hospital.
The Afrikaans daily Beeld reported that two hours after the Mandela family meeting, a grave-digging machine was parked near the proposed graveyard where Mandela is likely to be buried.
However, reports from the Presidency only confirmed that Mandela remains in a critical conditions. As South Africans steeled themselves for the worst, the family turned to prayer.
Relatives met in his home of Qunu while an archbishop led his family in prayer, calling for “a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end” for the former president.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba joined the family at the hospital.
In Pretoria, as huge crowds began gathering to pray and show support for Madiba, as he is affectionately known by millions, police reinforcements had to be called in to block off areas around the hospital for safety reasons.
At Mandela’s original home in Vilakazi Street in Soweto, barricades has to be put up to control the influx of visitors.
Considered the founding father of South Africa’s democracy, Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid.
He was elected the nation’s first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
– Associated Press
According to The Citizen, Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela, said her father “opened his eyes and gave me a smile” when she told him that President Barack Obama was visiting South Africa country this week.
UPDATE: 4:04 A.M. EST: During a press conference, South African President Jacob Zuma said that Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, 94, has been downgraded from ‘serious but stable’ to ‘critical condition’ today after taking a turn for the worse in the last 24 hours, according to the South African government.
According to the office of President Jacob Zuma, doctors “are doing everything possible” for Madiba, who has been intensive care since June 8.
Read more from Zuma’s office below:
President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by ANC Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the former President this evening, 23 June in hospital. They were briefed by the medical team who informed them that the former President’s condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.
The President and Mr Ramaphosa also met with Mrs Graca Machel at the hospital and discussed Madiba’s condition.
“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands,” said President Zuma.
The President and Mr Ramaphosa were assured by the doctors that when the ambulance transporting former President Mandela to hospital on the 8th of June developed engine problems, all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised.
“There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care. The fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses. The doctors also dismissed the media reports that Madiba suffered cardiac arrest. There is no truth at all in that report,” said President Zuma.
RELATED: A Timeline Of Nelson Mandela’s Life
CBS reported yesterday that Mandela’s kidney and lung function was functioning at 50 percent.
Mandela’s 95th birthday is July 18.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Madiba and his family.