A FALL victim died from a one in 10,000 complication following an operation, an inquest heard.

Paul Stevens, 39, of Rhoda Street, Nelson, suffered a head injury when he fell in the street. The operation, at Royal Preston Hospital, to remove a blood clot from his brain was successful and a second operation to insert a tube into his windpipe also went smoothly.

His condition began to improve, but six days later there was a sudden change and he bled to death because of a perforation to the carotid artery in his neck.

Consultant neurosurgeon Professor James Van Dellen, told the hearing there were no problems with the operation to remove the blood clot and Dr Peter Bunting, consultant in the intensive care unit, said the tracheostomy had also gone smoothly. He was 99 per cent certain the perforation to the artery could not have happened at that time.

The most likely explanation was that because of the pressure of the heart pumping blood to the brain, a hole had been gradually eroded in the trachea and then in the artery, which was right up against the trachea. It was a very rare occurrence, one in 10,000, he said.

Prof Van Dellen assured the family there had been no gradual build-up of blood which had been overlooked by medical staff. There would have been a sudden and massive release of blood and it was then almost impossible to save the patient. Pathologist Dr Abdel Al-Dawoud said the cause of death was bleeding due to the perforation of the artery.

Ann Clark, of Ulpha Close, Burnley, said her brother had been in the Lord Nelson pub, Nelson, on Saturday, July 31 on the anniversary of their mother's death.

Landlord Keith Thompson, said Paul had fallen asleep and at 9.30pm was taken outside for some air.

A few minutes later he started walking off slowly but not swaying or staggering. Mr Thompson said seconds later he heard a thump and saw Paul on the floor.

DC John Wright said police were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances.

East Lancashire Coroner David Smith recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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