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Report: Castro Made Surgery Decision That Led to Complications

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Cuban leader Fidel Castro (AP)

Fidel Castro himself told surgeons not to perform a colostomy, opting instead for a course of surgery that produced complication which left him in far worse condition, according to new details published in a Spanish newspaper Wednesday.

After removing an inflamed piece of Castro's large intestine in an operation last year, the doctors connected the remainder directly to his rectum, rather than attaching a colostomy bag, El Pais said, quoting two medical sources at Madrid's Gregorio Maranon hospital. The operation failed when the suture burst.

Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, the Madrid hospital's chief surgeon, declined comment Wednesday when approached by AP Television leaving a cafe near the hospital.

But in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, he said the only trustworthy information about Castro's health is what "comes from his medical team, and the rest are rumors, inaccuracies and things that are absolutely false."

He provided no new details about Castro's health.

"The Cuban dictator and his advisers are the ones who decided on the surgical technique that has led to the complications," the paper said.

While the newspaper article did not name the sources, one of the journalists who wrote it told The Associated Press that both were doctors at the hospital. The journalist, Oriel Guell, said none of the information in articles published Tuesday and Wednesday came from Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.

A Cuban diplomat in Madrid said Tuesday that the newspaper's report on Castro's health was "an invented story."

"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," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with normal diplomatic practice.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close friend and political ally of Castro, said Tuesday he had spoken with the Cuban leader a few days ago and denied that his condition was grave.

"I'm not a doctor, I'm not at the foot of Fidel's bed, but it's not like they say: neither grave, nor does he have cancer," Chavez told journalists on Tuesday in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, where he had traveled for the inauguration of leftist President Rafael Correa.

El Pais reported Tuesday that Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from the intestinal infection diverticulitis.

El Pais said that in December, when Garcia Sabrido visited, Castro had an abdominal wound that was leaking more than half a liter (1 pint) of fluids a day, causing "a severe loss of nutrients." The Cuban leader was being fed intravenously, the report said.

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.

The U.S. government had speculated that Castro could suffer from cancer — a supposition denied by Garcia 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.

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