Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Castro In Grave Condition

Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in serious condition after a series of three failed operations on his large intestine for diverticulitis complicated by infection, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. Castro, 80, suffered a serious infection that worsened to peritonitis according to two medical sources at the Madrid hospital where a surgeon who visited Castro in December works. Castro's prognosis is "very serious" and he is being fed intravenously, the paper said. A first operation to extract part of his large intestine and connect the colon to the rectum was a failure and the link broke, releasing faeces into the abdomen that caused another peritonitis, the newspaper reported.A second operation to clean and drain the infected area and perform a colostomy also failed, the paper said. A third operation implanted a prosthesis, it said. When Spanish surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido visited Castro in late December, Cuban doctors were considering another operation, the paper said. "The patient required drainage for more than half a litre of fluids a day, which is causing him a severe loss of nutrients," the paper reported. Castro, who took power in Cuba in 1959, has not been seen in public since July 26. He handed over power to his brother five days later, fuelling speculation he is so ill he may never return to power on the communist-run Caribbean island. In a New Year's message issued on December 30, Castro told Cubans that he was recovering slowly from surgery and said his recovery was "far from being a lost battle." Garcia Sabrido, the Spanish surgeon, said after his visit in December that Castro did not have cancer and could return to govern Cuba if he recovered fully from his surgery.