General Franco and the botched heart transplant

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The family of dictator Francisco Franco are being sued by the family of Spain's first heart transplant patient, claiming the failed operation more than 40 years ago was carried out for political reasons.

Within a year of Christian Barnard performing the world's first human to human transplant in South Africa, a Spanish surgeon and the son-in-law of Spain's fascist dictator sought to repeat the feat and boost the country's international standing.

But the patient, a 41 year old plumber Juan Rodriquez Grille, survived only 27 hours after the heart transplant that was meant to cure him of tachycardia – an abnormally rapid heartbeat brought on by liver failure.

His daughter, Maria Jesus Rodriquez Boga, has now launched legal proceedings against the family of the surgeon Cristobal Martinez Bordiu claiming the operation in 1968 never should have been performed and demanding compensation for his death.

Miss Rodriquez claims the surgeon – who died in 1998 – promised to provide for his patient's widow and daughter if the operation was not a success but that the family has received nothing....

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