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Gramoxone ingestors die slow, painful death

Gramoxone ingestors die slow, painful death

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2010

A member of the medical fraternity here, says that persons who ingest the herbicide Gramoxone often express regret about their fatal decision.

“Most people don’t {{more}}realize what is going to happen when they take Gramoxone. They don’t realize that they are going to die a slow and painful death,” says Dr Jamil Ibrahim.

“At the time when they are going to take it, they don’t care what they are going to do; but basically most of them are making a cry for help.”

The Registrar in the Department of Medicine of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) said that the herbicide, which is used widely in this country’s agricultural industry, is one of the most poisonous concoctions in the world which is readily available over the counter.

The product contains an odorless, tasteless chemical called Paraquat (chemical name N’N dimethyl-4,4’ bipyridinium dichloride), which is the lethal agent in the mixture.

He said that as little a dosage as 10cc (one teaspoonful) of the herbicide is enough to kill an adult.

Dr Ibrahim gave a vivid description of what happens when Gramoxone is ingested.

“The first thing that they will feel on swallowing is the burning sensation in their mouth and throat immediately… it will cause ulceration in those areas usually after 24 hours.

“It will be very PAINFUL when you swallow. After that, it will affect the lungs, kidneys and liver.

“Most of them when they die, they die of complications to the lungs, because the Paraquat has a high concentration in the lungs.

“The thing is, it doesn’t kill you right away; it depends on how much you take; if you didn’t take a lot, you will survive for a few days.

“It is a very painful death actually, because you are given probably five days to live and will be given a chance to think of what you have done and it is quite painful.”

According to Dr Ibrahim, chances of survival are slim.

He indicated that of the persons who have swallowed the product, only 20 per cent have survived, and this is mainly because of the quantity consumed.

He noted most recently a young female survived, because of the small quantity she ingested.

Others have not been as fortunate.

Over the past 10 years, nearly a dozen persons have succumbed after ingesting the poison, including 11-year-old Aldan Richards about one month ago.

Others include Adolphus Thomas and Leontus Burgin this year; Ricky Simon in 2008; Rosanette Thomas and Lenny Charles in 2007; and Leroy and Anita Pereira in 2005.

The doctor said that reasons given by the dying patients for their actions are usually trivial, mainly because of personal or family issues, with the victim usually indicating that they should have given the situation more thought before making the fatal decision.

“The thing they were going through may have been very bad, but when they have time to think about what they have done, they realize what they did was wrong and it is quite painful and too late.”

The doctor compared dying of cancer to dying from Gramoxone ingestion, and said that the cancer patient may fare better, because more than likely, he or she would have had the time to accept their mortality.

“…But in five to seven days, you may not reach the acceptance stage, so it’s quite horrible.”

Acknowledging that he is not a psychologist or counsellor, the doctor offered some words of advice to anyone contemplating taking their own lives by Gramoxone consumption or any other means.

“Life is so beautiful, man. Every problem has a solution. Sometimes it’s just something to talk about. Talk to somebody; it may ease up the burden and take away the thoughts of ending your life.”

The doctor, who is originally from the Philippines and has been working in St Vincent and the Grenadines since 2002, expressed some concern about the easy availability of the herbicide.

He said that he believes that the product should be regulated and monitored, and suggested an alternative, less potent herbicide may be used in its place.

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