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SECRET COCAINE SURGERY

Private hospital fails to alert cops after 17 pellets removed from man’s stomach

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

A private hospital has failed to report an incident where 17 pellets of cocaine were surgically removed from the abdomen of a man who had swallowed them and fallen ill.

 In an attempt to smuggle the narcotic, valued at millions of dollars, the 34-year-old man had ingested 20 pellets of cocaine which almost cost him his life.

Sources told the Express the man, who lives in Arouca, was taken to a private hospital by a relative after complaining of stomach pains and bowel obstruction.

On December 21, 2013, the man underwent a laparotomy—a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity—where the cocaine was found meticulously packaged into pellets.

The surgery, which started at 5 p.m., lasted for close to three hours and was conducted by a team of five—a surgeon leading three nurses and an anaesthetist.

Sources said during surgery it was found that the man’s bowel was perforated, as nine of the pellets had penetrated the bowel and had entered the man’s abdominal cavity.

The Express understands that some 17 cocaine pellets were removed from the man’s body and he disclosed to the hospital staff that three were passed in his stool prior to surgery.

Sources claimed instructions were given by the surgeon to the medical staff to not take any pictures of the pellets and to package them in a re-sealable storage bag. The illegal drug was handed back to the man.

The entire procedure was done under a cloak of secrecy, but left staff at the hospital shocked and concerned. 

Staff are also asking whether the prominent surgeon who did the surgery was culpable in not making a report to the police after removing the large quantity of drugs from the man’s body.

Because of the bowel perforation, the man’s condition deteriorated and sources said he developed sepsis—a potentially fatal inflammation of the entire body.

Nine days later and after close to $100,000 in medical and hospital fees, on December 30, 2013, the man was transferred from the private hospital to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.

Sources at the Mt Hope hospital yesterday told the Express the man’s condition was improving and he was currently in an adult medical ward.

The Express was told the man was resting comfortably and was referred to a surgical team for further examination at the hospital.

Contacted yesterday, one of the directors of the board of the private hospital said he was not aware of the matter and it was the first time he was hearing of it when questioned by the Express.

He said it is the law that the police be called in when illegal drugs are found, but stressed he was “clueless” as to this case.

The Express visited the Mt Hope hospital yesterday evening, where nurses confirmed the man was a patient.

He was not kept in the shared ward area, but in a single room where the Express saw two female visitors at his bedside.

The man appeared weak and in a daze. 

Sources at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex said doctors at the public hospital were not told cocaine pellets had perforated the man’s bowels, causing him to contract sepsis.

Sources also said parts of the man’s bowel had to be removed because of the extent of the damage and a colostomy bag (a bag placed outside the body to collect stool) had to be inserted.

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