Booze doesn’t always kill, it can save you too. Dilip Kumar, who works in a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit at west Delhi’s Moti Nagar, is a living example.
The 30-year-old accidently inhaled methanol while working in the factory recently which caused partial loss of vision and other severe side effects. When basic medical aid failed, his employers rushed Kumar to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. His eyesight was affected and vital parameters like blood pressure, kidney and liver function had fallen dangerously.
The doctors administered him rum in small amounts, close to a small peg, to neutralize the toxicity caused by methanol, which is a deadly chemical. This was besides hemodialysis and other supportive treatment.
“Rum has 40% alcohol or ethanol content which has a chemical structure similar to methanol. It occupies the receptors where methanol metabolizes into harmful formaldehyde thus reducing the toxicity,” said Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant, internal medicine at SGRH.
A teetotaller, Kumar was administered 30ml of rum every six hours for two days as part of his treatment through the feeding tube. Simultaneously, dialysis was also conducted to save his kidney from further toxicity. Doctors said that alcohol therapy is commonly practised for treating patients suffering from methanol poisoning-leading to hooch tragedies-due to consumption of adulterated alcohol.
“This, however, is a rare case of methanol poisoning through inhalation. When Kumar came to the hospital, his vision was compromised and kidney functions were deranged. Any delay in the treatment could have proved fatal,” said Pratyush Kumar, who works in department of family medicine at SGRH. The hospital has reported the story of Kumar’s treatment as a case study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.
Methanol is used in pharmaceutical industry to make iron sucrose complex. Kumar said he accidently inhaled it. “I never had alcohol in life. But when my family and doctors told me that it was alcohol that helped save my eyesight and life, it surprised me,” he said. He has resumed worked at the medicine factory now. “There are no severe symptoms but I do not feel healthy either. I still have problems seeing from one of the eyes. But at least I am alive,” Kumar added.
(Originally published in The Times Of India)