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Tossing Coins for Good Luck Has Unfortunate Side Effect

A sea turtle ended up with an 11-pound ball of coins in her stomach
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2017 8:51 AM CST

(Newser) – Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery to a sea turtle in Thailand from whom doctors have removed 915 coins. Veterinarians in Bangkok operated Monday on the 25-year-old female green sea turtle nicknamed "Bank," whose indigestible diet was a result of many tourists seeking good fortune by tossing coins into her pool over many years in the eastern town of Sri Racha. Many Thais believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity, reports the AP, but all the loose change eventually formed a heavy ball in Bank's stomach weighing 11 pounds. The weight cracked the turtle's ventral shell, causing a life-threatening infection.

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Five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty patiently removed the coins over four hours while "Bank" was under general anesthesia. The stash was too big to take out through the 4-inch incision they had made, so it had to be removed a few coins at a time. Many of them had corroded or partially dissolved. "The result is satisfactory. Now it's up to Bank how much she can recover," said Pasakorn Briksawan, a member of the surgical team. While recovering in Chulalongkorn University's animal hospital, the turtle will be on a liquid diet for the next two weeks. Bank was brought in to veterinarians by the navy, which found her ailing in her seaside hometown. It was only after a detailed 3D scan that veterinarians pinpointed the weighty and unexpected problem. In addition to the coins, they also found two fish hooks, which were also removed. (Read more sea turtle stories.)

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