Cuban leader Fidel Castro nearly died after "capriciously" rejecting a
colostomy when he fell ill, US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks said.
The confidential cable, titled "How believable is a Castro comeback?",
is dated March 16, 2007.
It cites an unnamed "respected, retired Cuban doctor" as its main source
on Mr Castro's health.
It says after a full day of activities on July 26, 2006, Mr Castro fell
ill on a domestic flight to Havana.
There was no doctor aboard his flight, and upon landing, he was
"diagnosed with diverticulitis of the colon," the cable said.
The illness is not necessarily dangerous if properly treated.
Mr Castro "had a perforation in the large intestine and needed to have a
But Mr Castro "capriciously, did not permit the colostomy," instead
arguing that doctors should splice out the infected part and reattach
the intestine to his colon, the cable said.
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," the file reads.
Having run out of answers, Spanish doctor Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido was
brought over in December 2006.
Dr Garcia said 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 Mr Castro to cede power to his brother Raul Castro in
late July 2006. Raul Castro later became Cuba's president.
Details on Mr 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, Mr Castro, 84, described the trove of
classified and secret US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks as a
"colossal scandal" for Washington.