A man nearly lost his life after he used a folk remedy to treat constipation and inserted a foot-long eel into his anus allowing the animal to swim into his body.
The 49-year-old patient, who has been identified only by the surname Liu, chose not to seek help from professionals after suffering bowel obstruction, and instead believed the unproven remedy told to him by a friend.
The man from Baiyun District in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, finally decided to check himself into the Guangzhou Dongren Hospital when his stomach pain became too unbearable.
Doctor Zhao Zhirong said the man arrived complaining of stomach pain and did not reveal that he had actually shoved the 50-centimetre (20-inch) Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) up his backside.
Medics rushed him into surgery and were stunned when they found the 3-centimetre (1.2-inch) thick animal in his stomach.
Doctor Zhao was quoted as saying: "We opened up his stomach and saw the eel amongst his faeces and food debris.
"He also suffered a punctured pancreas."
Had doctors not operated on Liu in time, he might have died from the serious blockage in his system.
The doctor continued: "When we asked the patient after surgery, he said the eel swam up by itself.
"But he later admitted that he put it there himself while following a folk remedy for bowel obstruction."
The medic noted that there was "no scientific base" for such a treatment involving live eels.
Liu is now recovering in hospital.