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Dad, Mom, and 7 Kids, All Docs or Nurses, Go Viral With Photo

All the siblings in the Okpaleke family pursued careers in medicine. From left to right: Okway Okpaleke, MD; Chinelo Okpaleke, PA; Nkiru Osefo, MD; Ifeoma Okpaleke, NP; Queenate Okpaleke, NP, and Chinyere Okpaleke, MD. Not pictured is sister Lillian Okpaleke, MD, PharmD.

On National Siblings Day (April 10), Chinyere Okpaleke, MD, posted online a photo of herself and five of her six siblings, all of whom are Black medical professionals. “Dr Chi,” as her patients call her, stood with her family, all decked out in blue scrubs, white coats, and big, joyful smiles. She posted it on LinkedIn, a platform she says she rarely uses. Two of her hashtags summed up the message she was hoping to send: #TheWhiteCoatFamily and #AfricanExcellence.

When she logged back in a few days later, she was stunned. The photo had been viewed millions of times and had been liked more than 200,000 times. More than 7000 people commented in support. Good Morning America and The Today Show reached out, asking for interviews.

“I was very confused, but I was also excited to see that feedback ― it was heartwarming,” said Chinyere, 35, who goes by “Chi Chi” and is a family medicine hospitalist in Houston, Texas. “I was happy that people resonated with the message I was sending: It wasn’t just a picture, it was this presentation of Black excellence, and more people should see more of it.”

As impressive as the picture was, it didn’t capture the full extent of the Okpaleke family’s achievements. Their father, Andrew Okpaleke, MD, is a retired internal medicine physician. Their mother, Celina, is a physician assistant who started her own home healthcare business. Their sixth sibling, Lillian Okpaleke, 39, has a dual MD-PharmD. “She’s the go-getter of the family,” Chinyere said with a laugh.

The entire Okpaleke family are medical professionals. From left to right: Okway Okpalke, MD, Chinelo Okpalke, PA, Nkiru Osefo, MD, Ifeoma Okpalke, NP, Queenate Okpalke, NP, and Chinyere Okpaleke, MD. Their father, Andrew Okpaleke, MD, and mother, Celina Okpaleke, PA, are pictured in front. Sister Lillian Okpaleke, MD, PharmD, is not pictured.

The fact that Black people are underrepresented in medicine, particularly as doctors, is well documented. Just 5% of physicians in the United States identify as Black, whereas 13.4% of the US population identifies as Black. Experts say this contributes to problems across the healthcare spectrum, including disparities in outcomes for Black people in numerous conditions. Chinyere said that gap is a big part of why she posted the photo. She wanted people to see her family as an example of Black success in medicine.

The Importance of Visible Black Doctors

Andrew and Celina immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1980 so that Andrew could go to medical school. Celina worked odd jobs to help make ends meet while he went to school and worked his way through his residency. They would go on to have seven children. The first was born in 1981, the last in 1993.

When the youngest, Chinelo, 27, was less than a year old, Celina was accepted to the University of Florida, where she earned her physician assistant degree. In 1997, she opened a home healthcare agency. That business has been successfully operating in Florida for more than 20 years.

The Okpalekes helped their children to believe that a career in medicine was possible, even if most of the doctors they saw growing up did not look like them, Chinyere said. “My father had friends within the medical field who were of color that I saw…and that helped,” she said. “But my primary care physician ― no. It was rare to see a doctor of color.”

As an undergraduate, advisors counseled Chinyere against pursuing medical school. “I was never sure if that was because they didn’t think I could do it or they didn’t think Black doctors existed,” she said. “People need to see more of us to know that this is something that is achievable.”

Okway, 31, the only brother in the family and a doctor in the Tampa, Florida, area, said that he thinks about his own path to medical school when he sees the picture. “I don’t remember growing up seeing many Black doctors besides the ones that my family knew,” he said. “If I had never seen them, I would probably have never even known that this is possible for me. And knowing that it was possible helped me push through the darkest and hardest days of med school. It made me know that I was not an outsider, no matter how much imposter syndrome I felt.”

Okway officially knew the photo was a big deal when a patient brought it in to an appointment. “They were, like, ‘Hey, is this your family? This is awesome. I printed it and put it on my fridge, and told my kids, look, this is possible for you,’ ” he said.

Family Matters

To hear her children tell it, Celina is the backbone of the family. The Okpalekes have a family group texting session. Every morning, Celina shares a message of prayer and support. “If we don’t have it, we’re, like, ‘Hey, where’s our morning text?’ ” Okway said. “She sends it every single day, and it’s like a cup of coffee ― you need that little jolt. She’s kind of our cup of coffee in the morning to give us that energy for the day.”

As the children grew up, it became clear that all were talented in math and science. Chinyere was the first to go to medical school. She worked through an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at the University of South Florida (USF) while also playing on the university’s basketball team. She went on to earn a master’s at USF and then attended medical school at Ross University School of Medicine, in Miramar, Florida.

Meanwhile, her younger siblings were making similar career decisions. Lillian decided to become a pharmacist. In high school, Okway also thought he might like to be a pharmacist, so he worked as a pharmacy technician. As he learned more about the work, he realized he wanted to work with patients more closely. “I liked seeing patients get better,” he says. “And that’s why I switched over to primary care, because I was going to be the first-line person to prevent things from getting worse.”

The family’s youngest sibling, Chinelo, remembers sitting around the table with her sisters and brother working on her homework. Her siblings helped, walking her through problems and testing her on concepts. “My sister was going to medical school, and my brother was going to med school, and my sisters were going to get their NPs, and everyone was just progressing, and I was, like, ‘OK, I’m just trying to get my bachelors,’ ” Chinelo said, laughing. To be fair, she had long known she wanted to pursue a career in medicine. In high school, she became a licensed practical nurse and helped with their mother’s business.

Chinelo was in her senior year of college when she read about Bennet Omalu, MBBS, MPH, a pathologist who discovered abnormalities in the brain of a football player while performing an autopsy. “I was blown away that you could find this out from an autopsy, and I just felt like I had to get into this field,” she said.

She talked with a pathologist at her sister’s hospital, then applied to a pathology assistant program in Chicago. About a year ago, she started working in a laboratory in Tampa.

When her sister sent a message to the family group text about the viral photo, Chinelo was surprised.

“When we all accomplished what we accomplished, we never really thought about it ― it was just something that we did,” she said. “And as humbled as I am by the response to that photo, it mostly gives me motivation to help others achieve what they want to achieve.”

Getting Through the Pandemic Together

The last year has been professionally fulfilling for Chinelo and for the rest of the Okpaleke family, but it has also been very difficult. Because every family member works in medicine, many were often on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. The family group text, generally filled with messages of support, turned to conversations about how to protect themselves, especially their parents.

“I still live at home with my parents, and I was still going to work,” Chinelo said. “Supplies were getting low ― a lot of the times, the first people to get hit with lack of supplies are people who aren’t noticed. So being in a lab, a lot of people didn’t focus on making sure we had the proper PPE ― and we ended up using the same mask multiple days in a row and just trying to sanitize it in between.” Her siblings sent messages of caution. “They were really getting on me, because I’m coming home to the parents.”

Another sister, Ify, 38, is a physician assistant in New York City. She works with HIV patients, who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID. The news reports from New York terrified the rest of the family. When Ify got sick with COVID, the family ― all of whom were hundreds of miles away ― felt helpless. She recovered and is doing well, her siblings said.

Now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, the Okpalekes are thinking about the future, including one very big addition: Okway and his wife, who is also a doctor, are expecting their first child.

Okway says he doesn’t want his child to feel pressure to join the family’s chosen profession. He said he never felt pressured to pursue a career in medicine ― if anything, the opposite.

“My dad showed us how hard it can be, that this isn’t the easiest road, and he told us, on some of his hardest days, ‘If this is not what you want, don’t do it. Do it only if you truly want to,’ ” Okway said. “We want our kid to grow up knowing that whatever they choose to do, we’re going to support them,” he said. “And we’re going to help them achieve whatever they choose.”

Laura Arenschield is a Columbus, Ohio–based, award-winning reporter for MDedge who has been writing about science and health for more than a decade.

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Group of Houston Methodist nurses planning walkout today over COVID-19 vaccine job requirement

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — One of the nurses suing Houston Methodist Hospital over its COVID-19 vaccine requirement plans to lead a walkout Monday as she completes her shift.

Jennifer Bridges told ABC13 she does not want to take the vaccine because it does not have full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine is currently being used in the U.S. under emergency use authorization from the FDA. Pfizer began its full application for full approval last month.

On May 28, a group of 117 Houston Methodist employees sued the hospital system for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.

The medical giant has given workers a deadline of receiving the vaccine by June 7, today, or face losing their jobs.

The lawsuit asks a federal court to prevent the hospital group from taking action against the employees.

READ MORE: Medical workers sue Houston Methodist over job requirement to receive COVID vaccine

But Bridges says that unless the courts intervene, today will be her final shift at the Baytown campus. She also claimed she will be suspended for two weeks without pay and eventually terminated.

A protest in support of her and the other employees involved in the lawsuit is planned for 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Baytown location.

Houston Methodist’s CEO Mark Boom has said it is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, that the vaccine is safe and the best option, and that he stands by the decision.

“I don’t think anyone should ever lose their job just because they do not want to get an injection that they are not comfortable with. They should have at least compromised with us and given us a chance since it is just emergency use authorization right now,” she said.

Bridges had worked at the Baytown campus for 6 and a half years. She says she will start looking for another job if a federal judge does not step in.

READ ALSO: How many people in your area are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Follow Jeff Ehling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Jeff Ehling

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Kate Garraway praises Derek's family and nurses as she enjoys well-deserved Cornwall break

In a lengthy caption, she continued to update her loyal fans on Derek’s health, as many have become invested in her family’s wellbeing throughout his illness.

She told her followers that his family had stepped in to care for him so she was able to have a break and a few days away.

Kate wrote alongside the video: “#paradise Thanks to the wonderful mum dad & sisters draper for coming down to be with Derek (with nurses too of course) so I could take my mum dad, Darcey & Billy to Cornwall.

“And thanks so so much to @peugeotuk for lending us a car to get us there! We got to see my brother aunts uncles cousins & new baby cousins!

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Texas needs nurses: What is causing the shortage?

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The need for nurses is growing across the nation, and Texas needs them badly.

Projections show the Lone Star State will need tens of thousands of nurses over the next few years.

“I’ll be there to help people and help them get out of the hospital,” said Orelia Daniels, a recent graduate of Austin Community College’s nursing program. “I am excited and I am ready to put my knowledge to work.”

Over the years, the demand for registered nurses has outpaced the supply, and that has left many job openings.

“I know when the time comes I am pretty sure I can find a job,” Daniels said.

Nina Almasy, department chair for professional nursing at ACC, says not only is there a need for nurses across the nation, but Texas has a growing need.

“The Texas Center for Workforce Studies projects a deficit of 57,000 RN FTE’s by the year 2032,” Almasy said.

So what is contributing to the shortage?

  • Retiring nurses or those choosing to leave the profession
  • The aging population and the increasing level of care patients require
  • Nursing burnout from the pandemic

An aging population, many nurses reaching retirement age and even the pandemic all have had impacts on the shortage, but Almasy says ACC has seen an increase in interest.

“In the last year we have seen an increase in demand and applications for the nursing program,” Almasy said.

Each semester, ACC’s nursing program takes in about 160 nursing students, and 138 students recently graduated from the program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual wages for nurses was about $ 75,000.

Author: Nabil Remadna
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

More Evidence Burnout Ups Risk for Errors: Critical Care Nurses

Critical care nurses (CCNs) across the country reported high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these factors correlated with an increase in self-reported medical errors, a cross-sectional study of American CCNs found.

The national survey-based study, conducted by the Ohio State University College of Nursing in Columbus, was published online May 1 in the American Journal of Critical Care.

The survey, conducted between August 2018 and August 2019, reveals that 39.8% of CCNs reported depressive symptoms and 53.2% reported anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, 61% of CCNs surveyed ranked their physical health at 5 or lower on a scale of 1 to 10, and 51% scored their mental health at 5 or lower. Only 39.8% reported experiencing a high quality of professional life.

Bernadette J. Mazurek Melnyk, PhD

Bernadette J. Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CN, Ohio State University’s chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing, led the study of members in the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Among 771 respondents, 92% were women, and the mean age was 39.9 years, with 57.8% in the age range 25 to 44 years. Ethnically, the cohort was 83.4% non-Hispanic white, and 91.4% reported working more than 8 hours a day. Worked days lasted 12 hours or more for 68.2%, with an additional 22.3% working 9 to 12 hours.

“They’re exhausted after three 12-hour shifts a week and some even go off to work at other centers as well,” Melnyk told Medscape Medical News. “This interferes with concentration and judgment.”

“These are working hours that are not allowed in the aviation industry or the railway industry,” added Nancy Blake, PhD, RN, FAANP, chief nursing office at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. “And when there’s shortage of nursing staff, someone will get called back in the next day after a shift.”

In the current study, nurses’ physical and mental well-being was assessed by validated instruments, including the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire-2, the Patient Health Questionnaire-2, the Professional Quality of Life Scale, and the Perceived Stress Scale-4.

According to Melnyk, her nurses commonly report physical health problems such as musculoskeletal disability from lifting and shifting patients, as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol, poor nutrition and binge eating, deconditioning due to lack of recreational exercise, and disturbed sleep. “We think that as nurses, they should be adhering to nutritional and activity guidelines, but they aren’t,” she said.

On the positive side, nurses who perceived their workplace as very supportive of their well-being (score of 6 or more out of 10) were twice as likely to have better physical health (odds ratio [OR], 2.16; 95% CI, 1.33 – 3.52). The observed relationship between greater perceived support for staff wellness and better health remained after adjusting for nurses’ age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, and hours of work per day or shift.

Unwanted Recipe for Errors

Overall, 61% of respondents admitted to making medical errors in the past 5 years. Nurses in poor physical and mental health reported making significantly more mistakes than those in better health, with ORs of 1.31 (95% CI, .96 – 1.78) for physical health and 1.62 (95% CI, 1.17 – 2.29) for depression.

That translated to errors for 67% of nurses with higher stress scores vs 56.5% of those reporting no or little stress. “These errors can include mistakes in dosage or scheduling of dosing and missteps when doing procedures,” Melnyk said. Added Blake, “Under stress, nurses can even mix up patients.”

The study’s findings confirm those of an earlier national study of the general nursing population by Melnyk’s group, which showed that nurses with worse health were 26% to 71% more likely to commit medical errors. Here, too, there was a significant relationship between greater perceived worksite wellness and better health. And among physicians, similar burnout this been linked to double the rate of medical errors.

The Pandemic Effect

Although the survey by Melnyk and colleagues was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, burnout has only worsened since. According to UCLA’s Blake, the peak of the pandemic increased the workloads of already stressed CCNs by necessitating higher patient-to-nurse ratios.

“I think it’s fair to say some nurses are now reaching their breaking point. The worst thing has been caring for dying patients whose families can’t visit them and being the nurse in the room who watches the family members crying on the other end of the iPad not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones,” she said.

Seeking to redress this situation, Blake’s center recently implemented a program called Helping Healers Heal, in which someone checks in on nurses and engages them in one-on-one debriefing sessions and discussions. “We also have a psychologist who normally deals with medical residents but has put together some programs for nurses’ well-being,” she said.

Despite such measures, the center has seen a small spike in nurse turnover, which is expected to rise with the looming retirement of the baby boomer cohort. “But turnover has been much higher in hospitals across the country. Some nurses say they can’t go back into the hospital setting, they’re going try for a job in a pharmaceutical company or get out of nursing altogether. We anticipate a future nurse shortage,” Blake said.

For Jessica Curtisi, RN, PCCN, who works in Wexner Medical Center’s intensive care unit, similar support has allowed her to manage the intense emotions evoked by her work. “At my lowest point last year, leaving the profession briefly crossed my mind. What keeps me here is a sense of duty. If I don’t stay and care for these patients, who will?” she said.

Staying on has been made easier by taking advantage of employee assistance with counseling, mindfulness coaching, and even pet therapy. “Counseling has allowed [me] to vent my emotions without fear to someone who really wants to listen,” Curtisi said. “It’s helped me to understand my own natural coping mechanism, which was to bottle up my emotions. Mindfulness coaching has helped me to feel the intense emotions of my work without burning out and keeping me from going about my day to day.”

Call to Action

The study investigators warn, “[H]ospital leaders and healthcare systems need to prioritize the health of their nurses by resolving system issues, building wellness cultures, and providing evidence-based wellness support and programming, which will ultimately increase the quality of patient care and reduce the incidence of preventable medical errors.”

Melnyk herself put it more plainly. “We need to fix this stuff and do more than we’re doing about conditions that contribute to burnout and depression. The health of our clinicians has a huge impact on healthcare quality, safety, staff turnover, and cost.”

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Am J Crit Care. 2021;30:176-84. Abstract

Diana Swift is a medical journalist based in Toronto. She can be reached at [email protected].

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Tokyo Olympics need 500 nurses; nurses say needs are elsewhere

The request for more nurses comes amid a new spike in the virus with Tokyo and Osaka under a state of emergency.

TOKYO, Japan — Some nurses in Japan are incensed at a request from Tokyo Olympic organizers to have 500 of them dispatched to help out with the games. They say they’re already near the breaking point dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Olympic officials have said they will need 10,000 medical workers to staff the games, and the request for more nurses comes amid a new spike in the virus with Tokyo and Osaka under a state of emergency.
“Beyond feeling anger, I was stunned at the insensitivity,” Mikito Ikeda, a nurse in Nagoya in central Japan, told the Associated Press. “It shows how human life is being taken lightly.”
The appeal for more nurses is typical of the impromptu changes coming almost daily as organizers and the International Olympic Committee try to pull off the games in the midst of a pandemic.
The Olympics are set to open in just under three months, entailing the entry into Japan — where international borders have been virtually sealed for a year — of 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and thousands of other officials, judges, sponsors, media and broadcasters.
In a statement from the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, secretary general Susumu Morita said the focus should be on the pandemic, not the Olympics.
“We must definitely stop the proposal to send as Olympic volunteers those nurses, tasked with protecting the fight against the serious coronavirus pandemic,” Morita said.
“I am extremely infuriated by the insistence of pursuing the Olympics despite the risk to patients’ and nurses’ health and lives.”
A protest message saying that nurses were opposed to holding the Olympics went viral on Japanese Twitter recently, being retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.
Even before the pandemic, Japanese nurses were overworked and poorly paid compared with their counterparts in the United States or Britain.
Nursing is not only physically taxing but also emotionally draining, said Ikeda, who has been a nurse for 10 years. He said many nurses worry about getting infected themselves, with vaccination rates in Japan reported at only 1-2%.
“It’s hard for any hospital to go without even one nurse, and they want 500,” Ikeda said. “Why do they think that’s even possible?”
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Japan have just passed 10,000.
The British Medical Journal last month said that Japan should “reconsider” holding the Olympics, arguing that “international mass gathering events … are still neither safe nor secure.”
Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, has said it will be “extremely difficult” to hold the Olympics because of the new variants that are spreading.
He also explained that Japan’s medical community has been stretched while treating coronavirus patients and also doing the vaccine rollout.
“We have heard enough of the spiritual argument about wanting the games,” he said. “It is extremely difficult to hold the games without increasing infections, both within and outside Japan.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga suggested that nurses who have quit their jobs could help with the Olympics, although some resignations are tied to the stressful work dealing with coronavirus patients.
“I hear many are taking time off, and so it should be possible,” Suga said last week, in a widely criticized remark.
Athletes will operate in a “bubble” at the Olympics, housed in the Athletes’ Village on Tokyo Bay and moved around in designated buses to venues and training areas. Hundreds of rooms are also reportedly being set up outside the village to take in those who fall ill.
Organizers will require daily testing for athletes and other participants, a momentous task for medical staff. It also contrasts with how little testing is being done for the Japanese public.
Public opinion surveys show up to 80% of the Japanese want the Olympics canceled or postponed again. Much of the bill for holding the Olympics, estimated officially at $ 15.4 billion, falls on Japanese taxpayers.
“The situation is extremely serious,” opposition lawmaker Tomoko Tamura said recently. “Nurses don’t know how they can possibly take care of this situation. It is physically impossible.”

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Maradona's doctor sent back ambulance nurses called for him 11 days before death

Diego Maradona’s doctor and psychiatrist turned back an ambulance his nurses called to the Argentinean legend’s home 11 days before he died after he started vomiting.

Leopoldo Luque and Agustina Cosachov, two of the seven people prosecutors are investigating over Maradona’s death last November, decided the emergency response vehicle should turn round as it rushed to Diego’s rented home near Buenos Aires.

The shock revelation emerged in a WhatsApp audio conversation between Nancy Forlin, the head of the nursing team involved in the football star’s day-to-day care, and his daughter Gianinna.

Nancy told Giannina in the exchange, leaked to an Argentinian TV programme: “The nurses who were in the house called for an ambulance because of the vomiting, saying ‘tell me what you want to do. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check him out and we have to make a decision because the ambulance is on its way.’”

The legendary Diego Maradona died in November last year
The legendary Diego Maradona died in November last year
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Diego’s daughter replied: “I’m in a WhatsApp group with Agustina, Luque and the others and they told me it had been sorted and my dad was asleep and they were going to wait till tomorrow because he was resting well.”

Nancy ended up agreeing to cancel the ambulance, saying: “If you decide to wait until tomorrow, ok, I’ll get it to turn round and tell the nurses.

“Our advice was obviously that it should go to the house but if you don’t want to, we can’t go against your wishes.”

Mariano Perroni, who was also in charge of the nursing team caring for Diego after his release from hospital following a brain blood clot op, told Argentinian TV programme Los angeles de la mañana : “The duty nurse reported Diego was suffering from nausea and vomiting because of something he ate and an ambulance was called.

“When I found out it had been cancelled, I offered to take the doctor in the ambulance to hospital in my own car, get Diego admitted and wait while he was examined in case emergency attention was required.”

Perroni, another of the seven people being investigated, added: “It couldn’t be done because they didn’t want Diego to see a doctor.”

Maradona's doctor Leopoldo Luque has been investigated over his death
Maradona’s doctor Leopoldo Luque has been investigated over his death

The homes and offices of Luque and Cosachov were searched soon after Maradona’s death aged 60.

Diego’s doctor was branded a “son of a b****by Maradona’s eldest daughter Dalma in February over a series of crassly-worded messages he exchanged with Cosachov and other colleagues.

They were leaked to Argentinian media after experts accessed phones belonging to them that were confiscated by investigators following the home and office searches.

Luque told a business partner on WhatsApp after Diego collapsed before it was known he had died: “The fat man’s going to end up kicking the bucket.”

He is also said to have told Cosaschov when she confirmed efforts to revive Diego were failing as he drove to the scene: “Let me know if they’re annoyed with us.”

Luque has denied any wrongdoing despite criticism of his supervision of Maradona’s care following his release from hospital.

The seven people under investigation, who also include Diego’s psychologist Carlos Diaz and two of his nurses, are expected to be told by the end of the month whether they will face manslaughter or more serious charges.

Maradona's daughters Giannina and Dalma are furious with the way their father was treated
Maradona’s daughters Giannina and Dalma are furious with the way their father was treated

A medical panel preparing a report on the circumstances surrounding Maradona’s death is said to be studying whether he was the victim of negligence or his untimely end was the result of something more sinister.

A well-placed source said on Thursday that the report would help prosecutors decide whether Maradona “had died, been killed or been left to die.”

Post-mortem results revealed recovering cocaine addict Maradona, who also had alcohol problems, had suffered heart failure which caused a pulmonary edema.

Medics are also said to have detected dilated cardiomyopathy, a medical condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Pulmonary edema, fluid accumulation in the lung’s tissue and air spaces, are caused by heart problems in most cases.

Maradona's death led to an outpouring of grief in Argentina
Maradona’s death led to an outpouring of grief in Argentina

Subsequent blood and urine tests showed he had no traces of alcohol or illegal drugs in his blood and urine when he died but was suffering from major heart, liver and kidney problems.

They also showed up a cocktail of prescription drugs including Quetiapine, Venlafaxine and Levetiracetam which are used to treat depression, panic attack and epilepsy among other conditions.

Although some of the drugs found in his system can cause arrhythmia, the tests confirmed there is no evidence Maradona was being given medication for the heart disease he was suffering.

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[email protected] (Gerard Couzens, Alex Milne)
This article originally appeared on Mirror – Football