Hugo Chavez is "living his last days" after his latest cancer operation in Cuba was an "absolute failure", according to a high-profile Venezuelan doctor.
Rafael Marquina, who lives in Florida and claims to receive inside information from the Venezuelan president's medical team, said the Socialist leader would be so impaired as to be unrecognisable.
He told Colombian radio station Caracol: "Most likely, he is showing signs of renal failure and a lung infection. But the biggest problem is that, with the delicate situation of the patient, his immune system must be weakened."
The pulmonary medicine and critical care expert built up a large following after he started disclosing information about the president's health on Twitter.
He has claimed to receive tip-offs via text message and Twitter as well as being in contact with the nurses and physicians in the Havana hospital.
Chavez has not been seen since December 11, when he flew to Cuba for a fourth operation in his battle against an undisclosed type of cancer in his pelvic region. He is due to be inaugurated next week after being re-elected in October.
His older brother and state governor Adán Chavez flew to his bedside yesterday and joined his close family including Chavez's son-in-law and Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, his daughters and vice president Nicolás Maduro.
The president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, also travelled to Cuba yesterday afternoon ahead of his re-election battle this week.
Mr Cabello could be required to call a new presidential election within 30 days if Chavez is not sworn in on January 10 and his absence is deemed permanent.
Mr Arreaza, who is married to Chavez's eldest daughter Rosa Virginia, said the president was in a stable condition.
"Today, comrade Adán Chavez arrived in Havana," he said. "We meet with him, the vice president Maduro and the Attorney General Cilia Flores.
"The medical team told us president Chavez's condition remains stable while in a delicate state.
"Commander Chavez is still battling hard and sends all his love to our people. Perseverance and patience!"