Firefighters save 39-stone man in seven-hour rescue mission in Barcelona

Barcelona firefighters in seven hour rescue

Barcelona Fire Dept: seven-hour rescue Credit:

A morbidly obese man who had not left his house since the pandemic had to be rescued from his home yesterday after he got into difficulty after a fall.

On Wednesday, May 25, Firefighters were called to the home of Alejandro B, a 48-year-old man who lived trapped in rubbish that had accumulated in the basement of a block of flats in El Prat de Llobregat, Barcelona, according to El Pais.

Police officers were alerted at 8:30 am yesterday after the man suffered a fall. It later emerged that the man had not eaten or drunk for several days, and desperately needed help.

Police reports indicate that he weighed more than 250 kilos (39.3 stones) and that he has not been seen outside his home since the pandemic.

In October last year, the city Council tried to help after concerned neighbours highlighted the situation. Spokesperson Arnau García explained that despite their efforts the man assured them he was fine and would not allow anyone to enter.

It is thought that the man has Diogenes syndrome, in which sufferers become socially isolated, neglect themselves and their surroundings, and display hoarding behaviour.

In an operation lasting seven hours, firefighters gained access through a window with an excavator, where they removed bags, plastics, boxes and other garbage that had piled up.

Finally, at midday, rescuers reached him where he was given oxygen, while emergency services continued work to clear the way for him to be released.

With the aid of a forklift truck, firefighters managed to remove him from the house through the window, at around 3:00 pm.

One of Alejandro B’s neighbours, complained that social services and the police did not do more in the face of a clear case of illness: ‘They spoke on the phone with him and were satisfied when he told them he was fine.’

Before the pandemic, residents explained that Alejandro B went to work at the airport, where he worked as an IT specialist. When the pandemic struck it seems he ventured out again.

Over the years the man had a history of problems that had been dealt with by health and social services until they considered the situation had normalised.

Despite four other alerts from neighbours, it appears that the situation was allowed to deteriorate, until this latest episode when emergency action had to be taken.

Thankfully, Alejandro B was admitted to Bellvitge Hospital, where his condition is described as not serious. Authorities have yet to decide whether the man can return home or will need to be admitted to a social-health centre.

García did explain however that the case exposed a loophole. It had been years since the man picked up his medication from the pharmacy, something that social services were not informed about. ‘It’s something that should have set off alarm bells.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals. When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.