WHENEVER we see somebody eating Bangkok santol, we remember an unusual advisory we received in August 2002 from Dr. Reynaldo Joson, head of the Department of Surgery of the Ospital Ng Maynila Medical Center (OMMC).
SEEDS CAN KILL YOU – Dr. Joson warned the public not to swallow santol seeds because they could be deadly. He reported the case of a 47-year-old woman fruit vendor who ate 10 Bangkok santol fruits and swallowed all the 30 to 40 seeds.
SEVERE ABDOMINAL PAIN – Three to four days later, she consulted the OMMC because of severe abdominal pain. On examination, severe tenderness was all over the abdomen. With a diagnosis of perforated intestines due to the swallowed seeds, an operation was immediately done. Upon opening the abdomen, fecal materials were all over the cavity leaking out from the perforations in the large intestines.
PERFORATED INTESTINES – The perforations were caused by the sharp ends of the seeds. The attending surgeons had to remove the segment of the large intestines with perforations, put an artificial anus on the abdominal wall and clean the abdominal cavity to remove the feces.
IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE – The surgeons tried their best to save the patient. However, on the fourth day after the operation, the patient died of uncontrollable and irreversible infection of the bloodstream.
ANOTHER CASE – Dr. Joson also reported that similar cases occurred the year before, two each at the OMMC and the Philippine General Hospital.
CONSULT A DOCTOR – Dr. Joson’s advice: Whether santol seeds are swallowed accidentally or intentionally, watch out for abdominal pain. If that occurs, consult an abdominal surgeon (general surgeon) right away who will give the necessary advice on what to do next.