Warning: Graphic Content
Doctors were left baffled after removing £53,000 worth of coins and jewellery from a woman’s stomach in India recently.
The 22-year-old woman had been suffering from abdominal pain and was throwing up after every meal for a week before she was admitted to hospital.
After being rushed to Rampurhat Government Medical College and Hospital on July 16, the woman was so ‘weak and emaciated’ that doctors couldn’t immediately operate.
Warning: Graphic Content
Sonographs and X-rays carried out showed metal in the 22-year-old’s stomach, but it wasn’t until surgeons operated that they discovered the massive 1.6kg hoard of golden metal jewellery, trinkets, money and a watch.
Dr Siddhartha Biswas, head of the surgery department who led the operation, said the woman had ingested gold, copper, and brass items. As a result, she could no longer eat food.
Dr Biswas said:
The patient looked weak and emaciated at the time when she was admitted to the hospital. Her albumin and haemoglobin count were so low that we could not perform an operation soon.
Her condition was so critical that she required at least five bottles of blood. She could not even intake food physically so we had to administer Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) to artificially inject food through her mouth.
The patient, from Margram in West Bengal, India, was slowly stabilised and was able to be operated on within a week, with Dr Biswas adding: ‘If we had operated on her earlier, she wouldn’t have survived’.
The operation lasted for approximately one hour and 15 minutes, with surgeons removing chains, nose rings, earrings, trinkets, bangles, and anklets from her stomach – as well as 90 coins and a wristwatch.
It is believed the woman, who is currently undergoing psychiatric treatment, may have taken the items from her brother’s costume jewellery shop.
A member of the young woman’s family said they had noticed items disappearing from the shop, however she broke down crying and denied everything when asked about it.
Eating items such as jewellery is symptomatic of pica, an eating disorder which, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), involves eating items that are not typically thought of as food and that do not contain significant nutritional value.
There are currently no laboratory tests available for pica, with a diagnosis made from a clinical history of the patient alone. However, in order to diagnose the disorder, tests for anaemia, potential intestinal blockages, and toxic side effects of substances consumed should also be carried out.
Warning signs of pica include the persistent eating of substances that are not food over a period of at least one month, with typical substances ingested including paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, soil, talcum powder, paint, metal, and other things.
The woman’s mother confirmed her daughter had not been well for the past two months and that ‘despite keeping an eye on her,’ she still managed to swallow the objects.
Before admitting her at the Rampurhat Government Hospital, we had taken her to various private doctors and she was on medication without any result.
Dr Biswas confirmed the patient is stable and will soon be discharged.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).