Man dies after nine-month heart op wait

A man from León in north-west Spain has died from a ruptured aorta after spending nine months on a hospital waiting list for an operation to treat the condition. His family are now planning to take local health authorities to court.

Man dies after nine-month heart op wait
Luis Canabal was not considered a top priority case by local health authorities in Castile and León. Photo: Fundación Fadei

"My brother died drowning in his own blood after waiting nine months for his operation," Laura Canabal told El País newspaper.

Canabal's brother Luis would have turned 49 on May 5th.

He died on February 21st, however, because of a complications directly related to his condition.

His sister has papers showing that her brother had been on waiting list for an operation to treat a heart aneurysm since May 10th 2012.

He was going to be operated on in January this year, but there were patients in a more serious condition, a spokesperson for the government of Castile and León told El Pais.

The family of the victim are now planning legal action the local health services. 

The health administration have already confirmed the operation dates offered by Laura's Canabal. 

But they said her brother was listed as a priority three case which means "patients with this condition can have their treatment delayed" without "serious consequences".

Waiting lists are based on these priority listings, said the spokesperson for the local health services.

Laura Canabal and her lawyers believe that, "given what happened", the priority accorded to her brother was not correct.

However, the medical case history is complicated.

Luis' case history shows his aorta had a maximum dilation of 58 millimetres when he died while reports from a health centre from May 9th last year show that the size as being 46 millimetres.

According to Gonzalo Barón Esquivias at Spain's Cardiology institute, operations on aneurysms are generally based on the size of the dilation.

Patients with an aorta dilation size of more than 45 millimetres are only operated on if a variety of other factors are present — including a patient age over 50 years.

This was not the case with Luis Canabal.

Laura Canabal isn't interested in these technicalities though.

“My brother spent nine months waiting for them (the doctors) to call," the dead man's sister told El País.

"He was a good man who left behind a wife and a son. He was very worried.

"He had already had health problems because he was a miner and had had to stop working," said the bereaved sister.

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