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Doctor: Dutch Prince Johan Friso suffered 'massive brain damage,' may never wake from coma

Miro Kuzmanovic / Reuters, file

Prince Johan Friso poses at the Austrian alpine ski resort of Lech on February 19, 2011. He gave up his right to the Dutch throne when he married a commoner.

AMSTERDAM -- Austrian doctors treating the Dutch Prince Johan Friso said Friday that he suffered "massive brain damage" after being buried by an avalanche last week and he may never regain consciousness.

Doctor Wolfgang Koller said MRI scans had showed his brain may have suffered lasting harm in the avalanche in Lech on Feb. 17.


"It is clear that the oxygen starvation has caused massive brain damage to the patient," Koller said. "At the moment, it cannot be predicted if he will ever regain consciousness."

The 43-year-old prince will be moved at a later date to a private clinic for further treatment but it may take years before he awakens, if ever.

Upscale resort
The prince was skiing with one companion near the upscale western resort of Lech but away from marked ski runs when the mass of snow, about 100 feet wide and 130 feet long, hit them around midday, the Austria Press Agency said.

The Dutch royal family often spends winter holidays in Lech in the province of Vorarlberg, which like other parts of Austria has been blanketed with heavy snow in recent weeks.

Prince Johan Friso's older brother is Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his younger brother is Prince Constantijn.

Dutch Prince Johan Friso remains hospitalized after being caught in an avalanche.

Johan Friso gave up his right to the Dutch throne when he married a commoner whose past was considered too tainted for her to become a member of the Dutch royal house.

When he asked for official permission in 2003 to marry Mabel Wisse Smit, Dutch media published details of her relationship with mobster Klaas Bruinsma, who was shot and killed in 1991 in front of the Amsterdam Hilton hotel.

Dutch prince's life 'still in danger'

Following the revelations, the couple decided not to get official permission for their marriage.

The London-based prince joined URENCO, a uranium enrichment company, in 2011 as chief financial officer after earlier working at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.