International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

TESTIMONY OF M. PIERRE BANCEL, who suffered a full aortic dissection

The US Penitentiary Administration would honor itself in allowing M. Peltier to be transferred to a prison where he might receive the medical and surgical treatment he urgently needs.

To whom it may concern:

My name is Pierre Bancel, I am a French citizen and an international civil servant, writing here in my personal capacity.

I would like to draw your attention to the case of Mr Leonard Peltier, a Sioux Lakota activist who was twice sentenced to life in 1976 and has been detained in various US penitentiaries ever since, presently at USP Coleman, FL.

He is now 71, and suffers from an abdominal aortic aneuryism, I have been told by members of his family and the association devoted to his defence in France. This condition is just like “an atomic bomb in his belly”, I was said by my local physician, as it means that his aorta may get disrupted at any moment, causing death in a matter of minutes.

To this common medical knowledge, confirmed by my wife, Sabine Bréchignac, MD and deputy chief of Service d’Hématologie at Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire Avicenne (Bobigny, FR-93), I would like to add my personal experience as well, as it is partly similar, in both causes and consequences, to what Mr Peltier is threatened with.

I have suffered a full aortic dissection (from heart to left thigh) in June 2014, when I was 55, a gallant gentleman riding my bike to work everyday for some 5 miles and back. While aortic dissection seems in itself to be somewhat less murderous than disruption, as it doesn’t cause the blood to spill all over within the belly, the ultra-low blood pressure it provokes nevertheless entails death in some 90% of cases like mine, while most survivors suffer from severe, irreversible neurological damage.

Under these circumstances, I feel extremely lucky to only have lost my legs due to medullar ischemia (hypoxia) at the T9 locus, as the medullar artery remained out of the blood flow from the very first seconds of the dissection on.

I was extremely lucky to survive at all, and in particular not to have lost my brains in the process, as the carotid artery irrigating the brains usually is the first one to drop in pressure in such cases as mine.

I was extremely lucky that Dr Alexandre Azmoun, one of the foremost French cardiological surgeons, woken up at 2:am in his home, drove directly to Centre Cardiologique Marie Lannelongue (CCML, Le Plessis-Robinson, FR-92) where I had been transferred by the firemen’s doctor, and operated on me for nine hours, from 3:am to 12:am, as a matter of “extreme emergency,” replacing my aortic arch by an artificial one while I was under extracorporeal blood circulation, and placing stents on various efferent arteries to prevent dissection from spreading further.

I also was extremely lucky that in the following month, in the Service de Réanimation (Intensive Care) of Dr Stefan at CCML, I also survived a cardiac arrest, an acute renal failure, a septic shock, a digestive hemorrhage followed by ablation of part of the descending colon and placement of a colostomy, a phlebitis followed by lung embolism, an intestinal occlusion on a volvulus, all complications that have been dealt with as life emergencies.

I still was very lucky to have been transferred, on August 26, 2014, to the Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire Raymond Poincaré (Garches, FR-92), the French reference rehab hospital for paraplegics, tetraplegics and hemiplegics. I brought in a pressure sore at my sacrum, some 8 inches wide and 2 inches deep, that took three more operations and seven more months in bed to heal.

Even when my bed sore was definitively healed, beginning April 2015, I still suffered from an atrial flutter that severely hampered my rehab. I had remained all along under a high dose of anticoagulants, as a big thrombus had been located in my left atrium, so I was once more very lucky to be able to undergo a flutter ablation by ultrasonic surgery at Hôpital d’Instruction des Armées Percy (Clamart, FR-92) on May 28, 2015. Following this operation, in some five days, my ejection fraction rose from a nearly letal 10 percent to a nearly normal 50 percent, allowing me to seriously start my rehab, and to finally leave the hospital on October 5, 2015, and resume working ten days later, half-time and from home. In a wheelchair, of course. My legs are gone for good and will never get back.

I may be considered one of the luckiest and most resilient sufferers of a full aortic dissection, a condition less dangerous than that Mr Peltier is likely to undergo. As it seems that a relatively simple surgery may remedy to his condition, it does not seem reasonable nor humane to leave him incurring such risk until it finally becomes reality.

The US Penitentiary Administration would honor itself in allowing him to be transferred to a prison where he might receive the medical and surgical treatment he urgently needs.

Sincerely yours,

Pierre Bancel
2, rue du Quatre Septembre
FR-93200 Saint-Denis

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