Prince Johan Friso and wife Mabel
Dutch Prince Johan Friso remains in a coma after being buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria on Feb. 17. He is shown here with his wife, Mabel. Reuters

Dutch Prince Johan Friso was buried in an avalanche a week ago while skiing in the Austrian Alps. The prince suffered major brain damage when he was hit with a wall of snow 30 meters wide and 40 meters long. After being buried for 20 minutes, Friso was pulled out, but found to be unconscious. Doctors now fear he may never regain consciousness.

It is clear that the oxygen starvation has caused massive brain damage to the patient, said Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of trauma at the Innsbruck hospital where Friso is being treated. At the moment, it cannot be predicted if he will ever regain consciousness.

Reports say Johan Friso was in cardiac arrest for 50 minutes before he was able to be resuscitated. Koller said that with the amount of time the prince was denied oxygen, it could take months or years for him to recover. Fifty minutes ... is long, very long, said the doctor.

Doctors had hoped to limit the damage to Johan Friso by keeping his body temperature low. Netherlands-based says this is normal for avalanche victims. Friso's body temperature was already low due to being buried, and the body requires less oxygen in colder temperatures.

The prince had been skiing with a friend when the avalanche struck. The friend managed to make it out of the accident unharmed with the help of a ski helmet, avalanche airbag and avalanche beeper. Rescue services were quickly alerted through the use of the beeper.

Johan Friso is the son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The prince married Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004. Due to Smit's former relationship with a mobster, Johan Friso was forced to give up his right to the Dutch throne when he married the commoner. The couple has two daughters together, Emma and Joanna.

Queen Beatrix has expressed her family's gratitude for the countless messages that well-wishers have sent regarding the prince.