MICHAEL Schumacher's health has been shrouded in secrecy since he suffered a horrific brain injury while skiing in 2013.
But in a glimmer of hope, the seven-time F1 world champion is said to be undergoing pioneering stem call therapy under the care of world-renowned surgeon Philippe Menasché to aid his long road to recovery.
Schumacher, 51, suffered severe head injuries on a family skiing holiday in the French Alps and has not been seen in public since.
He was skiing with his son Mick when he fell and cracked his head on a boulder on the Combe de Saulire above Méribel.
The devastating injury left him in a coma until 2014, paralysed and unable to speak, and he has been undergoing intense treatment since.
The champ's at-home specialist medical treatment is already reported to cost £115,000 per week, with the total costs now thought to have surpassed £20 million.
And in recent years, Schumacher has reportedly been taken under the wing of Menasché – the doc best known for performing the world's first embryonic cell transplant on a patient with heart failure in 2014.
It was hoped Menasché might be able to further Schumacher's recovery with his pioneering work and the surgeon reportedly treated the former racing driver with experimental stem cell treatment in Paris.
Although little was known about the operations carried out on Schumacher, he was believed to have received transfusions of inflammation-reducing stem cells.
Stem cell therapy is one of the most promising new medical treatments, and one of the key ways stem cell treatment can work is to repair or regenerate damaged and diseased tissues.
Jean-Michel Décugis, a French investigative journalist, said Schumacher arrived at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris for a round of treatment on a stretcher protected by security guards in September, 2019.
Pictures emerged allegedly showing Schumacher's private ambulance, and medical staff were quoted as saying he was "conscious".
Le Parisien said Schumacher has been treated at least three times at the hospital, admitted each time under a false name and treated by a small medical team.
Décugis said at the time: "Our sources say Michael Schumacher is receiving stem cell infusions that produce a systemic anti-inflammatory effect.
"That is to say that they reach the whole body and one could imagine that they reach the brain of Michael Schumacher.
"It’s quite mysterious. Officially he only works on the heart.
"He is experimenting with secretome, which is made by a laboratory from new stem cells and injected into veins, so far only in animals."
In June last year, Schumacher was reported to have had further stem cell treatments which had been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
It was claimed the F1 driver was suffering muscle atrophy and osteoporosis, a bone wasting disease, from being confined to bed for six years.
Menasché confirmed the stem cell treatment can "rescue damaged cells, caused by brain injuries, as their robustness helps with tissue protection".
Although information about Schumacher's ongoing health and condition remains closely guarded by his family and manager, his family have now opened up about the accident in a Netflix documentary.
Updates on his health have been rare, but the family has reportedly spent £20million on round-the-clock care at their homes in Switzerland and Majorca.
Some small pieces of information have been made public over the past seven years, but 'SCHUMACHER' delves deeper than ever before into the life of the racing legend.
It features interviews with members of Michael's close family, including his father Rolf and brother Ralf, as well as his dedicated wife Corinna and their two children, Gina and Mick.
It also includes conversations with racing royalty such as ean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone, Sebastian Vettel, Mika Häkkinen, Damon Hill, Flavio Briatore and David Coulthard.
'MISS HIM EVERY DAY'
Corinna, 52, broke down in tears in the doc as she revealed her husband is "different" since his head injury and she "misses him every day".
She said: "I have never blamed God for what happened. It was just really bad luck – all the bad luck anyone can have in life.
"It's always terrible when you say, 'Why is this happening to Michael or us?' But then why does it happen to other people?"
Tearful Corinna continues: "Of course, I miss Michael every day. But it's not just me who misses him.
"It's the children, the family, his father, everyone around him.
"I mean, everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here. Different, but he's here and that gives us strength, I find."
Discussing their family life, Corinna added: "We’re together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make him comfortable."
Everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here. Different, but he's here and that gives us strength, I find.
And earlier this month, close friend Jean Todt insisted Schumacher will "slowly and surely improve".
He told German newspaper Bild that the legend's wife Corinna cooperated with doctors as she wanted him to survive after the incident.
Mr Todt said: "I've spent a lot of time with Corinna since Michael had his serious skiing accident on December 29, 2013. She is a great woman and runs the family.
"She hadn't expected that. It happened suddenly and she had no choice. But she does it very well. I trust her, she trusts me.
"Thanks to the work of his doctors and the cooperation of Corinna, who wanted him to survive, he survived – but with consequences."
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