A North Korean defector had a 10-inch parasite in his stomach, and it’s unlike anything doctors had seen before, they said.
The North Korean soldier defected to South Korea through the Joint Security Area Monday, and he’s reportedly in critical condition. His stomach is filled with parasites, the Korea Biomedical Review reported.
“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” Lee Guk-jong, the attending doctor, said. “We have also discovered a parasite never seen in Koreans before. It is making the situation worse and causing tremendous complications.”
The unnamed soldier underwent surgery at the Ajou University hospital this week, the Review reported.
The operation ended with the removal of a bullet that was lodged in his abdominal wall, Lee said.
As Reuters reported, the soldier on Monday rushed toward the border in a “peace village” in the heavily guarded demilitarized zone. He used a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but one wheel came loose. Then, he got out on foot and a North Korean soldier shot 40 rounds at him, Suh Wook, chief director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told South Korean lawmakers.
Doctors then found a species of roundworm, the report stated.
The doctor described the soldier as 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 132 pounds, reported Yahoo.
According to the Review:
Roundworms may be contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human manure. Human feces produced from eating these plants may then be recycled to grow more vegetables, which increase the roundworm population. Roundworms can cause malnutrition and block the intestine, causing pancreatitis and appendicitis. These parasites may also cause peritonitis if it penetrates a vulnerable part of the intestine. If left untreated, peritonitis can spread rapidly into the blood and other organs, leading to multiple organ failure and death.
The longest parasite discovered in the North Korean soldiers’ stomach measured about 27 centimeters (10 inches), it was reported.
“I have been doing surgery for more than 20 years, but I have not seen such parasites. I will not be able to find them in [South] Korea,” added Lee.
Many North Koreans are believed to have severe parasite infections.
“I don’t know what is happening in North Korea, but I found many parasites when examining other defectors,” Professor Seong Min at the Dankook University Medical School was quoted as saying. “In one case, we found 30 types of roundworms in a female defector. The parasite infection problem seems to be serious even if it does not represent the entire North Korean population.”
In all, five bullets were removed from the soldier’s body.
“Until this morning, we heard he had no consciousness and was unable to breathe on his own but his life can be saved,” Suh said, according to the Reuters report.
More than 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South every year—but most travel through the country’s vast northern border with China.
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