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Posted January 16, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By MAR ROMAN | Associated Press

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has had at least three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection and faces “a very grave prognosis,” a Spanish newspaper reported Tuesday.

A Cuban diplomat in Madrid said the reports were lies and declined to comment.

“It’s another lie and we are not going to talk about it. If anyone has to talk about Castro’s illness it’s Havana,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of official policy.

The newspaper El Pais cited two unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.

In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said: “A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis.”

Cuba has released little information on Castro’s condition since he temporarily ceded power in July to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, until he could recover from emergency intestinal surgery, prompting much speculation and rumor in the country and around the world.

El Pais’ report, which could not immediately be confirmed, was a rare detailed description from a major media outlet about Castro’s condition.

The U.S. government had speculated that Castro could suffer from cancer — a supposition denied by Sabrido. Some U.S. doctors believed Castro was suffering from diverticular disease, which can cause bleeding in the lower intestine, especially in people over 60. In severe cases, emergency surgery may be required.

That idea was supported by El Pais, which reported that its sources said Castro had suffered a bout of the disease.

“In the summer, the Cuban leader bled abundantly in the intestine,” El Pais reported. “This adversity led him to the operating table, according to the medical sources. His condition, moreover, was aggravated because the infection spread and caused peritonitis, the inflammation of the membrane that covers the digestive organs.”

The recovery from the first operation, in which part of his large intestine was extracted and the colon was connected to the rectum, did not go well. The link broke and he released feces into the abdomen that caused another peritonitis, the report said.

A second operation to clean and drain the infected area also failed, the paper said. He was then hit with inflammation of the bile duct, an illness which has a 80 percent mortality rate, el Pais said. A prothesis made in
South Korea was implanted and failed and later was replaced with one made in Spain.

El Pais said that in December, when Garcia Sabrido visited, Castro had an abdominal wound that was leaking more than a pint of fluids a day, causing “‘a severe loss of nutrients.” The Cuban leader was being fed intravenously, the report said.

Garcia Sabrido was not reachable at his home or at the Madrid hospital where he works as the chief surgeon. His secretary at his office said he was not planning to comment.

A statement attributed to Castro was released on New Year’s Eve saying his recovery was “far from being a lost battle.”

Cuban officials told visiting U.S. lawmakers last month that Castro does not have cancer or a terminal illness and will eventually return to public life, although it was not clear whether he would return to the same kind of absolute control as before.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 20, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Dear Dr. Malloy: Do you have any idea what’s going on with Fidel Castro? I read he doesn’t have cancer but what else takes you out of commission for five months? I had my whole colon removed for ulcerative colitis and was back to work in six weeks. P.A.

    Dear P.A.: I have no inside knowledge of Fidel Castro’s case but there are three basic things that can sideline you after surgery: progression of the primary condition, serious complications from surgery and exacerbation of underlying health problems.

    In the first, the condition that necessitated the surgery can continue and worsen. Cancer is the most prominent of these. Inflammation such as colitis, ulcers and abdominal infections can be ongoing.

    Next, complications can follow surgery and go on for months or even years. These would include new infections, such as staph and wound healing problems. News releases have cited complications as the cause of Castro’s prolonged absence.

    Finally, major surgery can cause problems in other body systems, especially when the patient is 80 years old, as Castro is. Congestive heart failure, renal shutdown and stroke are just a few of the possibilities.



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