Castro almost died after rejecting operation: US cable

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 20:42

Havana: Cuban leader Fidel Castro nearly
died after "capriciously" rejecting a colostomy when he fell
ill on a domestic flight to Havana, US diplomatic cables
released by WikiLeaks said.

The cable, titled "How believable is a Castro
comeback," comes from the US Interests Section Havana marked
"confidential" and is dated March 16, 2007. It cites and
unnamed "respected, retired Cuban doctor" as its main source
on Castro`s health.

After a full day of activities on July 26, 2006 Castro
fell ill. There was no doctor aboard the flight, and upon
landing, he was "diagnosed with diverticulitis of the colon,"
reads the cable.

The illness is not necessarily dangerous if properly

Castro "had a perforation in the large intestine and
needed to have a colostomy done." But Castro, "capriciously,
did not permit the colostomy," instead arguing that doctors
should splice out the infected part and reattach the intestine
to his colon.

His main doctor, Eugenio Selman-Hussein, agreed with El
Comandante over the strong objections of the rest of the
medical team.

"With the passage of time, as the colon was infected,
the operation collapsed and the reattached part separated.

They had to operate again, but found a fistula."
Having run out of answers, Spanish doctor Jose Luis
Garcia Sabrido was brought over in December 2006. Garcia said
that the Cuban team "had done what they could, but the correct
treatment should have been a colostomy."

At that point "they removed Selman from the team, who is
now working as a low-level doctor someplace else," the cable

The illness forced Castro to cede power to his brother
Raul Castro in late July 2006. Raul Castro later became Cuba`s

Details on Castro`s health -- a state secret in Cuba --
are contained in five cables, one sent from the US embassy in
Madrid. All were written between December 2006 and January

Another cable mentions Raul Castro`s "depression"
following the death of his wife Vilma Espin in June 2007.

In a December 1 opinion article, Fidel Castro, 84,
described the trove of classified and secret US diplomatic
cables released by WikiLeaks as a "colossal scandal" for


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First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 20:42

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