FEBRUARY 24 2012 17:29h

Doctor: Dutch Prince Johan Friso may be in coma for life

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INNSBRUCK, Austria, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Dutch Prince Johan Friso, injured in an avalanche last week, remains in a coma and may never regain consciousness, doctors in Austria said.

Friso, 43, on a skiing vacation in the Austrian resort of Lech, was buried under snow for about 15 minutes before being rescued and taken to a hospital in Innsbruck, the BBC reported.

Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of the trauma unit at Innsbruck's University Hospital, said during a news conference it had taken nearly 50 minutes to revive Frisco. Scans indicated his brain suffered "massive damage'' in the avalanche, Koller said.

Friso is the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

The prince eventually will be moved to a private clinic for treatment but it could be years before he emerges, if ever, Koller said.

"We cannot say today with certainty whether Prince Friso will one day regain consciousness," added Koller.

No one else in the prince's ski party was injured in the Feb. 17 avalanche. Officials said a beeper the prince was wearing helped rescuers locate him quickly.