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Doctors Save Man by Giving Him 15 Beers

Man in Vietnam had a crazy amount of alcohol in his system
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2019 6:10 PM CST
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Talk about a hair of the dog: Doctors in Vietnam have saved a man dying from alcohol poisoning by giving him about 15 cans of beer, Newsweek reports. Nguyen Van Nhat was taken to a hospital in Vietnam's Quang Tri province Dec. 25 after falling unconscious with over 1,000 times the safe limit of methanol—a hazardous kind of alcohol—in his system. Doctors transfused roughly a can of beer an hour into his system to limit the methanol processed by his liver, which helped save his life. To understand all this requires some knowledge of ethanol and methanol.

Most commercially available alcoholic drinks contain ethanol but not methanol, which can still be found in bootleg booze, cleaning products, paints, thinners, antifreeze, and so on. This dangerous substance gets metabolized by an enzyme in the body and converted into formaldehyde, a toxic compound that gets turned into formic acid; together, these substances cause methanol poisoning, which can blind or even kill you. But the beer's ethanol can stop the formaldehyde from being turned into formic acid. That's what gave Nguyen Van Nhat's doctors extra time to perform dialysis, cleanse his body of alcohol, and discharge him about three weeks later, per the Daily Mail. (In related news, there's a good chance your rare scotch is fake.)

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