A pound of gold found in Indian man’s stomach

Gold has been stashed in all sorts of places — under mattresses, inside caves, in teeth.

This may be the rare occasion, however, that gold has been found in someone’s stomach.

Thursday morning, news broke that a 63-year-old New Delhi businessman went to the doctor complaining about pain in his gut. He told the doctor he had swallowed a bottle cap “in anger,” because that totally makes sense.

But surprise! It was actually gold. And not just a little bit. Doctors found 12 small bars of gold in his gut — weighing nearly one pound. They’re also called “gold biscuits.” The gold was valued at $20,000.

“This is the first time I have recovered gold from the stomach of a patient,” surgeon CS Ramachandran told the BBC. ” I remember having taken out a bladder stone weighing 1 kilogram from a patient. But finding gold in a patient’s stomach was something unbelievable.”

Removing gold from someone’s stomach is not an easy matter, the doctor confessed. “It was a tedious three-hour-long operation. He is an old patient and we had to be careful. We found 12 gold bars lying in a stack in his stomach.”

According to SBS, the 63-year-old had swallowed the 33-gram bars in Singapore and then traveled to India on March 28.

When he arrived home, he faced a quandary. How to get the gold out? He reportedly started “drinking lots of water and taking laxatives.” It did no good, and the gold lodged in his small intestine.

Ingesting gold, though incredible, isn’t unheard of. In February, police at the Mangalore International Airport realized that a passenger had swallowed “32-35 gold pellets,” the Times of India reports.  Eating gold, however, is a dangerous business. This man, too, had to go to the hospital. “The patient came with the mass, which according to him are gold pellets, stuck on the left side of the ascending colon,” one doctor said.

Why all the gold eating?

According to the BBC, India uses more gold than any other country. But last year, the government increased the import duty on the metal threefold to try and winnow the nation’s obsession. The amount of on-the-books gold imported into the country plunged from 162,000 kilograms in May 2013 to 19,000 kilograms in November — but there was also a surge in smuggling.

Observers of our latest gold ingestor were shocked that he would eat gold. “He is a wealthy man with a good business,” the doctor said. “It is both surprising and shocking to know that he could do something like this.”

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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