The Story Behind The Man Who Had 116 Nails Removed From His Stomach

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that food is essential for growth, development, and nourishment. For many, it is the ultimate source of happiness (via HowStuffWorks). Since what we eat and how we feel is connected, eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and a home-cooked meal is usually considered good for a healthy body and mind. In comparison, fast food such as burgers, soda, and fries are believed to have an adverse impact on our physical and mental health (via Aetna).

While food could be healthy and unhealthy, some people are known to eat metal, glass, and oil as appetizers. For instance, Michel Lotito -– the Guinness World Record holder for the strangest diet –- consumed 2 pounds of metal every day, which included TV sets, computers, and a small airplane. Eating fresh, junk food, or 'strange diets' may be an individual choice, but for the 9% of the population worldwide who suffer from various eating disorders, it's a totally different ball game, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. And then, some habits do not fall into any of these categories.

Non-nutritive Metals In Diet

In the western Indian state of Rajasthan, surgeons were shocked to find 116 iron nails of different sizes, a long wire, and an iron pellet in a gardener's stomach wall after he complained of severe stomach ache. Fortunately, 42-year-old Bhola Shankar survived the risky hour-and-a-half-long surgery, per the Hindustan Times.

According to The Free Press Journal, Dr. Anil Saini, who operated upon Bhola in a government hospital, said, "He is not being able to narrate as to how he happened to swallow such a huge quantity of objects. The iron nails could have proved fatal if any of these had entered his intestine."

In an earlier incident, doctors miraculously removed 263 coins and 100 nails from Maksood Khan, a 28-year-old rickshaw puller, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh (via CNN). While Bhola could not detail how he gulped down the dangerous objects, doctors believe Maksood suffered from depression, per CNN. Another of these situations arose in 2016, when, inspired by "spiritual powers," a policeman in the northern Indian city of Amritsar underwent a five-hour surgery to remove 40 pocket knives from his stomach, according to DW.

Why Do People Crave For Non-Edible Items?

According to Healthline, people who suffer from a rare eating disorder called pica or lack nutrition in their diets are often compelled to eat weird objects such as paint, metal, and hair. While a few may swallow potentially hazardous items unconsciously or intentionally, some people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) frequently develop pica as a coping mechanism. Per Dr. James M. Greenblatt, chief medical officer at Walden Behavioral Care, "For those with pica and OCD, trichotillomania (hair pulling) and excoriation (skin picking) are common, and the hair and skin are commonly ingested."

Refrigerator magnets, endoscopes, and retractors often aid in safely removing the lethal foreign bodies from a patient's stomach (via American Gastroenterological Association). However, Michigan-based general surgeon Dr. Mark W. Jones prefers a defibrillator magnet at the time of laparotomy, since long and pointed iron-based objects are difficult to remove using an endoscope (via The Spartan Medical Research Journal).