Nelson Mandela on Life Support, Family Members Say

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Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid activist who spent 27 years in prison before becoming that country's first black president, is on life support.

Mandela Tributes

It doesn't look good. The treatment the 94-year-old Mandela is currently receiving includes a ventilator to assist his breathing, as well as renal dialysis.

The family has been given the option of stopping that treatment.

Family members arrived at the Pretoria, South Africa hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated and briefly spoke to the media gathered outside.

Ndileka Mandela said that her grandfather's condition was "critical but stable." She also said the presence of supporters was a "comfort" to the family.

South African President Jacob Zuma also reportedly visited the hospital Thursday, one day after canceling a planned one-day trip out of the country.

Zuma had visited Mandela on Wednesday night and canceled a visit planned for the next day to Mozambique, an indication of heightened concern.

Zuma found Mandela to still be in critical condition during the visit and was briefed by doctors "who are still doing everything they can to ensure his well-being."

Mandela was originally hospitalized June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

South Africans were torn on Wednesday between the desire not to lose Mandela, who defined the aspirations of so many of his compatriots, and resignation.

The sense of anticipation and foreboding about Mandela's fate has grown since late Sunday, when the condition of the statesman began to deteriorate.