A highly respected rabbi, who died suddenly after a heart operation, did not have a post mortem due to his religious beliefs.
Senior Coroner Alan Wilson respected the wishes of the family of Rabbi David Katanka and decided not carry out an autopsy to help determine the cause of death.
Instead, Mr Wilson gave a narrative verdict at Rabbi Katanka’s inquest at Blackpool Town Hall on Tuesday, April 1.
Rabbi Katanka’s son, Edward Katanka, explained that in the Jewish faith the human body is seen as not to be treated with disrespect. The faith also asserts that the body be laid to rest in its entirety.
Edward said the family was glad that Mr Wilson had respected their faith and was satisfied with the narrative verdict.
Rabbi Katanka, 63, who had a history of heart disease, moved to St Annes with his wife Marilyn in October 2013.
He was operated on by Mr Augustine Tang, a cardio- thoracic surgeon from Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Mr Tang said the operation on February 5 had gone well and he was pleased with Rabbi Katanka’s progress at first.
However, Rabbi Katanka was not responding to treatment after a few days and, on February 10 of this year, his condition deteriorated and he died suddenly.
Mr Tang said nothing had gone wrong with the procedure but there were possible issues with his liver and a stroke.
Rabbi Katanka’s operation included a coronary bypass and valve procedures. A small “jet”, or leak, in a valve was identified after the operation but the risk of repairing it was deemed to be too great.
Mr Tang said this jet might have caused problems in the distant future but it was not an immediate concern.
Mr Tang said acute liver failure and abnormal body chemistry could have contributed to Rabbi Katanka’s demise. He added that Rabbi Katanka suffered a “catastrophic event” when his body chemistry suddenly spiralled downward.
In his narrative verdict, Mr Wilson said that Rabbi Katanka had suffered from ischemic cardiomyopathy, which was treated by surgery on February 5 of this year. He said at 10pm on February 10 Rabbi Katanka did not regain consciousness. Mr Wilson gave his condolences to Edward, his mother and the rest of Rabbi Katanka’s family.
After the inquest, Edward said: “I am satisfied with the verdict. We prefer to have a dignified burial.
“My father was philosophical about the operation and was expecting to come round, so it was a huge shock when we lost him. It was also a big blow to the community in St Annes.
“He had only been in St Annes for a few months and was building strong links with other faith communities.
“My father worked as a rabbi all over Britain.
“He was the rabbi in Sheffield after the Hillsborough disaster and he helped many people. He could never understand how such a disaster could happen in modern Britain.
“He was a hospital chaplain – he was really good with people.
“It was a labour of love for him. He wanted to inspire people through the liturgy and prayers. His sermons were impeccable.
“He always wanted to live by the seaside and he loved living in St Annes.”
Rabbi Katanka was also a cantor; a member of the Jewish faith who sings liturgical music and leads prayer in synagogues.
Before he passed away, Rabbi Katanka had just finished writing a book about smaller Jewish communities across the UK.
Rabbi Katanka was a father to four boys and four girls. Two of his sons are rabbis.