Sometimes people have bad ideas when it comes to knives. And then sometimes people have really bad ideas, such as swallowing 40 knives.
This one falls into the latter category.
For reasons that may indicate a rare eating disorder, a man in India recently spent two months swallowing 40 knives. Needless to say, he ended up in the hospital.
Once there, it took two whole days just to plan what the doctors could do. Then it took a five-hour operation to get all 40 blades out of the man’s stomach.
“He had a wild urge to consume metal,” Dr. Jatinder Malhotra told CNN. “Even for us, the experienced surgeons, it was frightening.”
“We were so nervous… a small mistake could have taken the patient’s life. In my 20 years of practice, I have never seen anything like it.”
A Taste for Folding Knives
According to doctors, the man consumed folding knives. He ate some of the knives folded and others open. When extended, the blades reached about seven inches.
Some of the blades already had started rusting, Malhotra told CNN. The open knives caused profuse bleeding. Doctors said the man would have died soon without the operation.
Surgeons spent five hours carefully removing the blades. Before starting, they spent two days looking at X-rays and determining the best way to proceed with the operation.
The Big Question: Swallowing 40 Knives, Why?
The patient, a 42-year-old father of two, did not have a detailed explanation of why he started swallowing knife blades. He told CNN that he “enjoyed its taste.”
“I don’t know why I used to swallow knives. I just enjoyed its taste and I was addicted…how people get addicted to alcohol and other things, my situation was similar.”
Doctors reported that the patient told them much what he had told CNN: he developed a taste for metal and loved the way the blades tasted.
His need to eat metal could indicate a rare eating disorder called pica, according to Livescience.com. Referring to information from the National Institutes of Health, the site reported that some people develop a desire to eat non-food items.
People with pica have consumed a wide variety of items, including hair, soap, dirt, paint, clay and, yes, metal. The condition typically occurs most frequently with children, pregnant women and the developmentally disabled.
The annual number of hospitalizations for pica increased 93 percent between 1999 and 2009.
While the patient in India recovered well from the surgery, the hospital wants him to undergo a thorough psychiatric evaluation before discharging him.
“I’m sorry I let my family down,” the patient told CNN. “I’ll be forever thankful to doctors and hospital staff for saving my life.”