Doctor ‘detox’

Ho Chi Minh CityDoctor Doan Uyen Vy, 46 years old, is sought after by many patients when he has examined many specialists but cannot find the cause of the disease, and cannot be cured.

The nearly 40-year-old man was jaundiced, vomiting, weak in limbs, exhausted, went to many hospitals in the country as well as to Singapore, still did not know the exact disease. The internists at a hospital found that each time the patient was discharged home, his condition was worse, suspected poisoning, and gave a heavy metal test that showed arsenic poisoning. If the cause is not found, the treatment can still lead to poisoning again. Determining that this is a difficult case, the team invited Doctor Doan Uyen Vy, a toxicologist at Cho Ray Hospital for a consultation.

Doctor Vy talked to patients about possible sources of poisoning in the living environment, eating habits, using traditional medicine… but found no abnormalities. Asking deeply about his career, he said that he has been in the business of ready-built houses for 10 years, selling about 20 units a year. Every time he prepares to sell a house, he buys feng shui powder to break into the house to pray for good luck and prosperity.

“What he didn’t expect was that there was arsenic in the fumigants, which made him poisoned. The correct detection of the cause not only helped him to cure the disease, but also cut off the source of the poison to prevent the risk of re-infection.” Doctor Vy said.

Over the past 20 years, thousands of such patients have been diagnosed by Dr. Vy, detoxified, and avoided the source of poison. Her love for a little-known specialty, without any specialized training, was sparked when she was very young.

As the daughter of a professor specializing in toxicology, teaching pathology and forensic medicine at Saigon Medical University (now Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy), Vy is very interested in her father’s research work. about toxicity. He often brings home a lot of traditional medicine to study and find out which medicine has poison. “Dad said this profession is very good, if done well, it will help patients because a lot of people are poisoned without knowing it, can’t find the disease to treat,” she said.

During her years as a medical student, every time she practiced in a hospital, Vy always paid special attention to poisoning cases. The school did not teach much, she consulted the knowledge from her father and read books to find out more. In her university graduation thesis, she carried out a thesis on organophosphorus pesticide poisoning. After graduating from school, her application to work at Cho Ray Hospital is a project to establish a poison control center.

Doctor Vy examines a patient at the Poison Control Clinic. Image: An My

Wishing to learn, improve knowledge, broaden perspectives, observe how people work in countries where Poison Control Centers (PCCs) are developed, she applied for a scholarship to Taiwan. China) and the US study. These centers pay great attention to the prevention of poisoning and poisoning, and the prevention of consequences. They often have teams to go to the community, factories, factories, schools, organize propaganda activities for people to understand, thereby avoiding falling into poisoning situations.

“Preventive action is important because when the disease manifests itself, it is too late and very difficult to treat because the body is damaged by the toxic substance and the damage is gradually silent over the previous five months,” said Dr. Vy analysis.

Returning home, she expressed her desire to set up a poison control center like foreign countries, located at a hospital but serving the whole South, in order to help reduce the mortality rate, the rate of complications from poisoning and toxic diseases. cause. With the consent of Doctor Nguyen Tri Thuc, Director of Cho Ray Hospital, the hospital’s Poison Control Clinic has been in operation since the end of last year. According to Dr. Thuc, the establishment of the first poison control clinic in the South is the foundation for the establishment of the hospital’s Poison Control Center.

Up to now, the clinic has received hundreds of people with many different types of poisoning such as exposure to chemicals in their work and profession, habits in daily life, metal poisoning due to traditional medicine and traditional medicine. .. “Each case of poisoning is a different, very diverse situation,” said Dr. Vy.

Even the food you eat and drink every day has the risk of poisoning. For example, someone has to go to the emergency room, undergo hemodialysis after drinking a lot of star fruit juice, because star fruit has oxalic acid, when drinking a lot, it will combine with calcium to form stones, blocking the stone tube leading to acute kidney failure.

More painfully, Doctor Vy witnessed a woman with blood cancer die three years after returning to her husband’s house. The patient is inherently sensitive to fragrance, the bedroom is close to the altar – where the mother-in-law often has the habit of burning two bundles of incense in the house from morning to night (about 120 trees). Meanwhile, incense contains many toxic ingredients such as benzene – a carcinogen with long-term exposure. Benzene vapor can survive in the surrounding air for more than 8 hours. People who breathe this vapor 24/24h and last for a few months to a few years will easily progress to myelodysplasia, more severe than blood cancer.

Toxic disease often manifests as a chronic medical disease, damage to an organ or multiple organs at the same time, can recur many times without finding the cause, and not accurately diagnosing the disease. Patients can go to any specialty, in which the most common are hematology, gastroenterology, musculoskeletal, cardio-respiratory, with symptoms such as digestive disorders, gastritis, cardiac arrhythmias, etc. Jaundice, persistent cough, interstitial pneumonia… Especially, many people are poisoned because of long-term use of traditional medicine to treat bone and joint diseases.

The rough, flaky hands of a poisoned patient after a long time taking many traditional medicines to increase vitality and cure hepatitis.  Photo: An My

The rough, peeling hands of a poisoned patient after a long time taking many Eastern medicines to increase vitality and cure hepatitis. Image: An My

This specialty requires doctors not only to read medical books, but also to study chemistry, physics, and biology books to know what formula the poison has, how it affects health, and what symptoms it causes in patients. core. In some cases, Doctor Vy can diagnose the disease in just a few minutes. There are difficult cases, she has to study and find out for a few days to find out what kind of poisoning the patient has. For example, with a group of 35 students poisoned by slime toys in Hoa Vang, Da Nang last year, the doctor spent 4 days reading, analyzing documents, and consulting new foreign experts. find out the cause is the toxic gas causing asphyxiation. From this result, everyone knows the exact source to prevent future poisoning for children.

“Many people still believe that the diagnosis of poisoning must be based on testing. This view is not true. Poisons have millions of types, there is no testing machine that can detect all, not to mention not substances. Any poison goes into the blood for testing,” said Doctor Vy. The diagnosis requires many factors, especially the knowledge of toxic substances, the “sensitivity” of the doctor to the clinical symptoms of the patient.

Ms. Hanh, 27 years old, living in Dak Lak, said that “Doctor Vy is a great benefactor to help revive her life”. She suffered from ankylosing spondylitis, after a few months of taking male medicine, she suffered from edema, exhaustion, diarrhea… due to severe intestinal ulcers, had to receive albumin and protein infusion every day, which cost hundreds of millions of dong, but it didn’t go away completely. Hanh also visited a number of places but could not find the root cause of the disease.

Through examination and testing, Doctor Vy prescribed an antidote for heavy metals, and asked the hospital to import it for the patient to use. After three days of use, Hanh recovered spectacularly, her test parameters improved well, and she was able to return to normal life. “If it weren’t for Doctor Vy, I don’t know if I would have survived,” Hanh said.

Living fully with a passion for preventing poisons and detoxification, what worries Dr. Vy is that there are not many doctors in this specialty, most of the hospitalized patients are very seriously ill before being diagnosed with toxic diseases, making them sick. The treatment is no longer effective. Meanwhile, in modern society, people increasingly use chemicals, indiscriminately use many drugs, polluted living environment … the risk of poisoning is increasing.

The doctor wishes that Cho Ray Poison Control Center – PCC Cho Ray would soon be born to meet the need to find out the cause of the disease, in the context of chronic poisoning diseases increasing, as well as give warnings to help people, community to prevent poisoning, to support colleagues in the treatment of these diseases. The center will have its own phone and email for consultation, answering questions about infectious diseases of all residents or medical staff from far away in the area can be easily contacted.

In Vietnam, so far, hospitals have had poison control units located in the Intensive Care Unit, mainly focusing on acute poisoning cases caused by suicide, snakebite, poisonous insect bites, and eating. seafood has toxins… but not a true PCC. The only place with a Poison Control Center is Bach Mai Hospital, but it also focuses mainly on treating acute poisoning cases. Meanwhile, many countries in the region such as Taiwan and Thailand have established operation centers in this form for several decades now.

According to Dr. Vy, with cases of suicide, snakebite accidents, emergency doctors can easily identify what poisons are. Then, a general practitioner or emergency physician can diagnose and treat it faster and easier. Particularly for toxic diseases that are not obvious or intentional, neither the patient nor the general practitioner, internal medicine know the cause of the poison, from where it enters the body, mainly just Treated symptomatically, the disease often recurs many times and does not go away, can get progressively worse and death.

“Therefore, a PCC led by a specialist with knowledge of toxicology and intoxication is essential to ensure the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this disease,” said Dr. Vy.

Le Phuong


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