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Spanish newspaper: Castro prognosis 'very grave'

Story Highlights

NEW: Surgeons removed part of Castro's large intestine and rectum, report says
• Castro had three failed surgeries, according to the El Pais report
• Madrid doctor denies being source, says Castro still doing "fantastically well"
• Cuban president, 80, underwent surgery on July 31
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- An infection of the large intestine, at least three failed operations and complications have left Fidel Castro's prognosis "very grave," a Spanish newspaper reported Tuesday, citing medical sources from the Hospital Gregorio Maranon de Madrid.

The public hospital's chief of surgery, Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido examined the Cuban leader in Havana for about 90 minutes last month.

In a statement he made December 26, the doctor said Castro did not have cancer and might recover, adding that the 80-year-old was doing "fantastically well" with his treatment.

Garcia Sabrido led a conference at the 9th Cuban Congress of Surgery in Havana last month and, according to Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya, traveled to Cuba aboard a Cuban government plane. In addition, the Cuban Embassy oversaw all details of his visit, the newspaper reported.

Garcia Sabrido stood by his initial statement Tuesday and said he was not a source for the El Pais story.

El Pais -- one of Spain's largest and most reliable papers -- reported that two sources at the Madrid hospital told its reporters that Castro underwent three failed surgeries to correct the problems.

According to the sources, Castro suffered from diverticulitis, a severe inflammation of abnormal pockets in the large intestine. The condition can result in infection and hemorrhage.

The newspaper cited Brazilian journalist Claudi Furiati, who wrote Castro's authorized biography, "History Will Absolve Me" (2001), as saying Castro suffered from diverticulitis more than 20 years ago, though a less severe case.

Symptoms of a recurrence emerged before last summer, and Castro lost large amounts of blood into his intestine, the newspaper said, citing the same medical sources.

The infection then spread, resulting in peritonitis, or inflammation of the membrane that covers the digestive organs, the report said.

This development led to the first operation, in which the surgeon removed part of Castro's infected large intestine and part of his rectum, according to the report. The surgery also involved the connection of the central part of Castro's large intestine directly to the rectum, the report said.

This operation was not a success, the report said, adding that the ongoing infection disrupted scar formation between the colon and the rectum, and his abdomen filled with feces, causing another case of peritonitis.

During a second operation, doctors clean and drained the affected area and created an artificial anus, the report said.

But poor scar formation occurred, and Castro's bile duct became infected, the report said. It cited one of the medical sources as saying Castro suffered from a severe form of cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder.

The report blamed the complication on a lack of blood flow to the affected organ and the difficulties that come with surgery. The condition results in death in about 80 percent of cases, the newspaper said, citing another source as saying a small prosthesis had to be implanted into a bile duct.

When the prosthesis, which was made in Korea, failed, surgeons replaced it with another, this one made in Spain, the report said.

Last month, during Garcia Sabrido's visit to Cuba, Castro had a wound in his abdomen leaking half a liter of fluid per day, causing a "a severe loss of nutrients," the report said.

Castro suffered loss of muscle mass and required intravenous feeding, the report said.

Castro has not been seen in public since July 31, when he was first reported to have undergone intestinal surgery and handed power temporarily to his brother Raul.

The Cuban government has released at least one video of him and guarded details of his condition as a state secret.

CNN's Al Goodman and Sanjay Gupta contributed to this report.

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