Environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh can continue his hunger strike for months if he continues to take intravenous (IV) fluids.
This is according to former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association (TTMA) Dr Maria Dillon-Remy.
Kublalsingh was admitted to the St Clair Medical Centre last Friday night and discharged on Saturday. He has said he only took intravenous fluid in order to live to continue his hunger strike.
He further told the media on Sunday that he would take the IV again if his body failed him. While in the hospital, he received dextrose with potassium and saline fluids intravenously.
A clinical consultant at the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Dillon-Remy says the use of intravenous fluids helps maintain the body's fluid and electrolyte balance, which is essential for life.
In an e-mail to the Express, Dillon-Remy yesterday explained that a person's body requires a daily amount of water, minerals, protein and carbohydrates, and if these are not obtained, the person would get dehydrated and, subsequently, organ failure would result.
"When intravenous fluids are given, the effect on the individual would depend on the content of the fluids; one option is to give water, sodium and chloride (saline solution), then there is dextrose with saline. The other options include giving fluids containing bicarbonate and potassium, in addition to dextrose and sodium and chloride," she said.
Dillon-Remy added that these options may be enough for replacement of volume and electrolytes, but they do not replace the protein and fats which are essential for preventing the breakdown of muscle.
However, she said there are intravenous fluids which contain proteins and fats that are called intravenous hyperalimentation. This, she explained, "is usually given if the person is without food for a prolonged period or if the person has had bowel surgery".
"That requires putting the fluid with a central line, rather than a peripheral line, because the fluid is so concentrated. This hyperalimentation is reserved for complex cases," she said.
Asked if that is all he is on, what does that mean for his bowel movements and his overall health? She said it depended on the type of IV.
"His bowel actions can continue, even without food, though it would be difficult. Overall, he would start to break down his own muscle, for example, if he is not getting proteins IV," she said.
As for how long he can stay on IV?
Dillon-Remy said, "If he is getting IV "hyperalimentation", he can live for a long time...because he is getting food intravenously." • See Pages 4 &18