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Lazarus of lager: Man pumped full of 15 cans of beer in radical, life-saving procedure

Lazarus of lager: Man pumped full of 15 cans of beer in radical, life-saving procedure
Desperate times call for desperate measures, such was the bizarre case in which a man at risk of dying from alcohol poisoning was pumped full of 15 cans of beer to save his life.

Nguyen Van Nhat, 48, was taken to the General Hospital in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province with a blood-alcohol level a staggering 1,119 times higher than the limit. Medics immediately transfused Nhat with three cans of beer to dilute the amount of methanol in his system and give his liver a chance to process the toxic form of alcohol.

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Methanol oxidizes to formaldehyde which, in turn, becomes formic acid which can cause damage to the optic nerve, inducing blindness in extreme cases of exposure, as well as kidney failure.  

The human liver prioritizes breaking down ethanol first before methanol. So the introduction of beer kept his liver occupied, in a manner of speaking, while medics performed dialysis to remove the methanol, according to Dr. Le Van Lam head of the hospital's ICU.

Nhat was then dosed with a can of beer per hour for a total transfusion of an incredible five liters (169oz) of booze.

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“The therapy with 15 cans of beer is rather unusual, but well understood,” emergency physician Hans-Jörg Busch from the University hospital of Freiburg, told German press agency dpa.

“Much more important [than the kind of alcohol used] is that the therapy is immediately initiated."

Nhat regained consciousness after the 15th can of beer was administered, and was discharged from the hospital three weeks later.

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