Castro almost died after rejecting operation: US cable
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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 treated.

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 read.

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

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 2009.

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 Washington.


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

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