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High risk treatment led to death of cancer-stricken Burnley GP
A HIGH risk surgical procedure led to the death of GP who was trying to beat pancreatic cancer, an inquest heard.
Dr Michael Barsby, 42, had been told his cancer was ‘inoperable’ by NHS surgeons, leaving him just weeks to live.
But he and his wife Susan found a specialist in Germany who could remove the tumour, Ribble Valley Coroner’s Court heard.
The procedure in February last year was successful and Dr Barsby, who worked at Kiddrow Lane Health Centre in Burnley, seemed to be recovering well up until November.
But the surgery had caused hypertension to develop over several months, increasing the blood pressure in his arteries and eventually causing the vessels in his gullet to rupture, the inquest heard.
This then caused a ‘massive’ gastro-intestinal bleed that quickly led to his death at the Royal Blackburn Hospital on November 15.
Pathologist Dr Aslam said the surgery, known as the Whipples procedure, had been a ‘calculated risk’ in view of his poor prognosis.
He added: “If I was that person I would be doing the same.”
Dr Barsby, of Dorset Drive, Clitheroe, had been diagnosed with ‘aggressive’ pancreatic cancer in October 2012, and consultants in Manchester said they were unable to operate because the tumour was wrapped around vital blood vessels.
The inquest heard he was offered chemotherapy instead, but this would only be a delaying tactic, so he and his wife began to research the topic on the internet and found the specialist in Heidelberg.
She said: “It was our decision to go to Germany. The surgeon was surprised about it not being done in the UK. He said it was a shame.”
She said her husband’s rapid deterioration came as a shock as ‘he was back to as full health as possible’ between August and November.
The family had even made an inspirational YouTube photo diary to document his recovery.
Derek Baker, assistant coroner for Blackburn, recorded a narrative verdict and said: “The original diagnosis, I have no doubt, would have led to Dr Barsby’s death but the surgery I think was the direct cause of death.
“There’s no evidence it wasn’t competently carried out, or the gamble wasn’t sensible. I strongly suspect this tragic outcome would have occurred in any event.”
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