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OP DEATH DAD'S FAMILY DEMAND INVESTIGATION; Widow wants answers after procedure lead to fatal heart attack.

Byline: Warren Manger

THE family of a Warwickshire businessman who died on the operating table have demanded a full investigation.

Father-of-two Luigi Belcuore was killed by a heart attack af-f ter surgeon Professor James Richardson injected oxygen into his knee during a clinical trial.

Following an inquest, a jury ruled the technique did contribute to Mr Belcuore's death. His widow Penny said she had expected to hear from her husband after the operation to say he was back on the ward, but instead received a call from Professor Richardson who asked her to fetch a neighbour because he had bad news.

"I knew straight away that something was wrong," she recalled.

"He started crying down the phone and said he was so very sorry about what had happened.

It was a terrible phone call and I had a hard time comprehending what had happened. I was in complete shock."

Mr Belcuore, aged 43, was a keen sportsman and agreed to trial a new technique to relieve a long-standing cartilage problem at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, in October 2009.

The operation should have been straightforward and Mr Belcuore even created an of-f fice at home so he could resume work within days.

But an inquest heard that Professor Richardson used a modified spray gun to close the wound without permission.

It created an air bubble in Mr Belcuore's blood which reached his heart, causing a fatal embolism.

Just four weeks later Penny, of Morton Bagot, Warwick-k shire, discovered she was expecting their third child. "Life without Louis has at times been almost too much to bear but I have had to find the strength to carry on for the sake of our two daughters and our baby boy," she said.

"The hardest thing is that they will now grow up without their dad."

The family is now calling upon the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, to launch a formal investigation into Professor Richardson and is considering civil action against the hospital.

Victoria Blankstone, a medical law solicitor with Irwin Mitchell who is representing Mr Belcuore's family, said: "This was a tragic error which should never have happened.

"Even junior doctors would have been aware of the problems associated with arthritic knee joints and the risks involved in injecting air into the human body. So it is difficult to comprehend why a more senior specialist would have decided to inject air in such circumstances."

Wendy Farrington-Chadd, chief executive of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, said patient safety was the trust's priority.

CAPTION(S):

BEING STRONG: Penny Belcuore, the widow of Luigi Belcuore arriving the jury inquest in Shrewsbury and, right, Professor James Richardson LOVING FATHER: Luigi Belcuore
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 12, 2011
Words:459
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