CHICAGO -- A 70-year-old woman had her intestines sucked out by a vacuum toilet in a bizarre accident aboard a cruise ship last September, a doctor reported in a letter to a medical journal.
Dr. J. Brendan Wynne, an orthopedic physician with the Osteopathic Medical Center in Philadelphia, said Thursday he wrote the letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association to alert doctors and the public to the possible dangers of vacuum toilets, which are common aboard ships and airplanes.
'I realize this almost defies belief,' Wynne said in a telephone interview.
Wynne said he was vacationing aboard the Greek-registered Pegasus docked near Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sept. 22 when he responded to an emergency call on the ship's loudspeaker.
When he and his wife, a registered nurse, arrived at the woman's cabin, they found her lying on a bunk with 'several feet of small intestine' trailing behind her, Wynne said.
The woman, 70 years old and slightly obese, was alert but obviously in pain, he said. She told him that she had flushed the toilet while seated and the suction had 'pulled everything out.'
The woman was taken to the Royal Columbian Hospital.
Dan VanKeeken, director of communications for Royal Columbian, said the woman, a Phoenix resident, was admitted to the hospital, where she was treated for 10 days and released. VanKeeken said no other information was available about the woman's present whereabouts, 'but the nurse said she left looking pretty good.'
The Pegasus is currently on a South American cruise.