Anyone who's been to a college frat party knows the rules: fall asleep without your shoes on and you are officially fair game when it comes to penises drawn on your face, being photographed in compromising positions, and eels slithering up your butthole. And if one of those eels happens to gnaw its way through your rectum and die in there and infect your abdominal cavity, well, you just gotta learn to hold your liquor next time, bro! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO COLLEGE!
No, but seriously.
The following is a story I first saw on the Shanghaiist blog. According to the post, a Sichuan man died from organ failure last month after a swamp eel chewed through his lower intestine. How did the eel find itself inside a man, you ask? After he (the man) passed out drunk one night, the man's friends forcibly inserted the eel into his anal sphincter, as a joke. Haha! Get it?
Here's the problem, though. According to what seems to be the original source, the man didn't die, though he does have to basically poop out of his belly button from now on. The misunderstanding appears to originate with this Japanese culture-watch blog post (warning, ads NSFpeoplewhoforsomereasondon'tlikeanimeporn), which is supposed to be translated from a Japanese edition of the story (which btw has a really funny Google Translate headline).
Anyway, because of this error I took it upon myself to translate the original story from Chinese just to sort of clear the air about this man and his butt trauma for all interested parties. You're welcome:
Eel burrows into man’s body, chews life-threatening hole in rectum
Source reports: Intoxicated man was a victim of prank; Eel taken into police custody for investigation.
Yesterday morning, in Zigong No. 1 People’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit, Chef Zhang Dajun, after spending the last ten days in deep shock and respiratory failure, has finally said goodbye to his oxygen tank. “If all goes well, he should be transferred out of the ICU within 2-3 days.”
Thinking back to the events of ten days prior, a member of the ICU medical staff sighed, “An eel, weighing about a quarter of a kilogram, entered the anus and abdominal cavity of a living person, biting its way through the rectum; I’ve never seen anything like it.”
A strange case: Marbly blotches appear on patient’s lower limbs
Around 4:00pm on April 17th, the emergency department received a call concerning a transfer patient from another hospital afflicted with a bizarre and urgent condition.
The patient in question was 59 year old Zhang Dajun, and his condition was both extremely strange and extremely complicated: In deep shock, his breathing was quick, and his entire waist was red and swollen with blood. The skin on his stomach was like that of a rubber ball, and the majority of his legs were covered in marbly blotches. He showed signs of acidosis and severe dehydration, as well as failure of the liver and kidneys.
But according to the medical records of the transferring hospital, the cause of the symptoms had not yet been diagnosed. According to the patient’s family, he was transferred after complaining of incessant stomach pains for more than ten hours.
Zhang’s life might have been in danger at any moment.
To diagnose the cause as quickly as possible, liver and gallbladder expert and deputy hospital chief Deng Jing immediately convened a consultation of specialists.
Knowing they were facing a rare and complex condition, experienced experts struggled to reach a diagnosis as they studied the patient’s external symptoms.
Finally it was decided that the only way to determine the cause of illness would be to open and examine the patient’s abdominal cavity.
Considering the complex nature of the illness, however, doctors worried that invasive surgery could prove dangerous.
Yet without immediate action, the patient’s life might be in worse danger. “As we entered the operating room, we knew we had to try our best, even if there was only a tiny shred of hope.”
At 8:30pm, after the consent of family members was obtained, Zhang Dajun entered the emergency operating room.
Inside the abdominal cavity: a 0.25 kilogram swamp eel
As lead surgeon Zhang Hongbin opened the abdominal cavity, he and the other surgical staff were shocked to discover a dead eel: over 50cm long, weighing about 0.25 kilograms and thick as a shot glass. The eel had entrenched itself in the abdominal cavity, apparently after gnawing a large hole in the patient’s rectum. The area had become infected and filled with fluid; several organs had also failed and there was severe damage to the kidneys and liver.
It was clear: the eel had entered the body through the anus.
So the cause of the patient’s 10 hours of stomach pain was the eel (in a manner not unlike how the Monkey King scratched at the inner lining of Princess Iron Fan’s stomach*) burrowing into his anus and chewing through his rectal wall. The victim’s external symptoms, including his swollen waist, blotchy legs and acidosis were all the result of this eel.
Due to infection incurred by the bite wounds, the doctors had no choice but to excise the affected area and divert the remaining rectal passage out through the patient’s belly.
Although the cause of the symptoms had been confirmed, one unresolved question still perplexed the group of doctors: Swamp eels live in a complicated natural habitat, cold, full of other aquatic life forms, often raised in captivity; so if a living eel finds its way into a human body, what sort of kind of bacteria might it introduce, and what kind of side effects can one expect to see?
For 59-year-old Zheng Dajun, this was a question of life or death.
For five days after the operation, Zheng was constantly in a state of shock, his life hanging by a thread.
On the sixth day, under the meticulous care of the 24-hour nursing staff, Zhang Dajun began to edge away from the brink of death, his vital signs showing gradual improvement.
Yesterday was the tenth day after his surgery. Although he hasn’t fully recovered, he has already overcome the infection and respiratory failure, and said goodbye to his companion for the last ten days: an oxygen tank.
The resilience of life is a miracle Zheng has now experienced with his own body.
First hospital: Patient stated he had eaten many eels
Around 7:00am on April 17th, a hospital in the city of Zigong admitted a patient whose symptoms included constant abdominal pain, especially in the upper left region.
According to the patient himself, the previous night he had eaten “a lot of eels, and drank a little, too.” The doctor on duty initially suspected pancreatitis and ordered a blood amylase test. “We tested numerous times, finally sending him to another hospital for re-examination.”
The doctor continued to be puzzled: the test results all showed normal amylase levels.
Subsequent tests of fluid samples from the abdominal cavity also showed no signs of intestinal problems.
As the hospital convened a consultation that afternoon, the patient’s condition took a turn for the worse: multiple organ failure.
At 4:00pm, at the request of family members, the patient was transferred to Zigong No. 1 People’s Hospital.
Investigating the culprit: Police take the eel into custody
Zhang Dajun is a chef at a restaurant in a township of Zigong city.
Yesterday, lying in his bed in the ICU, just after parting with his oxygen tank, Zhang and his family declined to speak with reporters, citing personal privacy. As they repeatedly told the hospital, this was not a matter they would like to see reported by the media.
So how exactly did this quarter-kilogram swamp eel find its way into his body? Why were Zhang and his family unwilling to explain the truth to the hospital staff?
According to a source who wished not to be identified, on the night of April 16th, Zhang Dajun fell victim to a prank while under the influence of alcohol. His friends intentionally forced the eel into Zhang’s anus, not anticipating the destructive consequences of their practical joke.
Zigong police arrived to collect the eel at No. 1 People’s Hospital shortly after receiving notification from family members in order to thoroughly investigate the truth about the eel entering Zhang’s body.
(Zhang Dajun is an alias)
Yang Yuanlu, Huaxi Metropolis News
So there you go. And yet, something still doesn't sit right with me after re-reading this. Even if you admit the possibility that there actually are people out there who think this would be a fun prank, how do you go about putting an eel in your drunk buddy's rectum, logistically speaking? God only knows how many eels I've tried and failed to cram up my own anus, so I can only imagine the elbow grease it must take to coax one into a limp, unconscious fifty-nine-year-old man; I don't care how many people are helping. Personally, I don't buy it.
*From a scene in the classic story “Journey to the West”, in which Sun Wukong shrinks himself into a tiny insect, flies into the princess’s body and scratches at her insides until she gives up her coveted Iron Fan.