A former regional sports journalist died two days after an operation to treat a medical condition described as a “ticking time bomb”, an inquest has heard.
Doug had undergone an operation to repair an aneurysm on his aorta two days before he died at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital on 17 April.
An inquest at Newcastle Coroner’s Court has now heard that although the operation had successful, he suddenly deteriorated and went into cardiac arrest two days later.
Giving evidence at the hearing, which was covered by The Journal’s Chronicle Live sister website, consultant Michael Wyatt said the aneurysm was “like a little ticking time bomb that could go off at anytime”.
He said: “We decided the risks of doing anything far outweighed the risks of managing it with best medical therapy.
“It’s always difficult – you’re between a rock and a hard place. If you leave the aneurysm, when it reaches the threshold there’s a risk it’ll rupture, but if you do something there’s a risk you won’t survive the operation.
“We saw Doug every three to six months and for the first year it stayed stable and we were happy, but then it started to increase in size. When it increases there’s a bigger risk of rupture, and when we feel the risk of rupture exceeds the risk of surgery we have a conversation about whether the patient wishes to undergo an intervention. Doug felt that he would like to go through with the operation.”
Tests showed that Doug, who was 77 and from Cramlington, Northumberland, was high risk whether he had the surgery or not, but that the operation “went really well” and he was discharged onto a ward.
Mr Wyatt said: “When he had a cardiac event, despite our efforts we weren’t able to resuscitate him successfully.”
He added: “There’s nothing we could have done differently in this case. Had he not undergone that procedure he would not have died at that time, but he would have died at another time from rupture. The ward staff were devastated when he died, as were the doctors.”
Pathologist Peter Cooper told the inquest that Doug had a history of heart disease and had suffered a heart attack in 2013, adding the primary cause of his collapse and death was pre-existing heart disease.
He said it was “no coincidence” it happened shortly after the operation, listing the procedure as a “contributing condition”, but added: “The extent of his heart disease was such that he could have died at any time.”
Coroner Karen Dilks recorded a narrative conclusion that Doug “died due to natural causes and complications of their treatment.”
His daughter Susan Robson, of Gosforth, Newcastle, told Chronicle Live: “He had to have the operation at the end of the day, he could have gone next week.
“We have got closure now, we can start to grieve and get on with our lives, although sadly without him. He’s a huge miss.”