A FATHER of three died from a ruptured spleen that could not be treated due to his other medical problems, an inquest heard.

Chris Williams died at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday March 6 after a rapid deterioration in his condition.

The inquest heard 52-year-old Mr Williams was diagnosed with a blood condition that gave him an unusually high red blood cell count in 1997.

Then in the days leading up to his death he was diagnosed with pneumonia and myeloblastic leukaemia, an uncommon but aggressive form of the disease which affects stem cells in the marrow by creating too many mutated white blood cells.

He appeared to be making a recovery until his spleen - found to be four times larger than normal - unexpectedly ruptured.

Consultation haematologist Jonathan Pattinson said even if a problem with the spleen had been diagnosed earlier, Mr Williams would have been unlikely to have survived an operation to remove it.

Dr Pattinson said giving the patient chemotherapy - especially the type required for his illness - would also have been a major risk because of his pneumonia and the procedure would not have started for at least another week.

He said: "One is in a dreadful chicken and egg situation - if you don't give chemotherapy the problem won't go away but if you do it, it could make the problems worse."

Mr Williams, of Chapman Lane, Flackwell Heath, was admitted to Wycombe Hospital on March 3 with chest pain, shortness of breath and fever.

He stabilised and was constantly monitored before being transferred to the specialist haematology ward at Stoke Mandeville on March 5.

But his condition rapidly deteriorated in the early hours of the following day and he died at around 4am.

Coroner Richard Hulett said the pneumonia "served to obscure the early stages" of Mr Williams' spleen problems and said there were no missed opportunities by hospital staff to help him.

He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.