Doctors Save Vietnamese Man’s Life with Beer Transfusion

A man was rushed to a hospital in Quang Tri province of Vietnam due to alcohol poisoning and doctors saved him by pumping a total of 15 cans of beer into his body, a Newsweek report says.

Nguyen Van Nhat, 48, reportedly fell unconscious before being taken to the hospital on December the 25th.

Doctors found high levels of methanol—a dangerous form of alcohol—in his body. The Daily Mirror reported that the methanol was 1,000 times over the government’s recommended limit.

Upon arrival, medical staff led by Dr Le Van Lam pumped him with about a litre of beer and was later administered with a total of 15 cans of beer in a span of 24 hours. The rate of the transfusion was at about one can of beer per hour, according to the hospital. The process slowed down the liver’s processing of the methanol in his body, saving Nguyen’s life, doctors explain.

Methanol is fatal and is metabolised into a highly toxic compound known as formaldehyde. As it breaks down further, it turns into formic acid. The effects include permanent blindness and nervous system depression which can later cause death.

Administering beer to a patient who has methanol in his or her body will halt formaldehyde from turning into formic acid as the liver prioritises breaking down ethanol before working on methanol. Beer contains a lot of ethanol.

In Nguyen Van Nhat’s case, this process gave medical staff enough time to perform dialysis to completely get rid of the alcohol in his system.

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