Man Literally Drinks Himself Blind With Vodka, Regains Sight With Whiskey

Denis Duthie
Denis Duthie celebrated at his parents’ 50th anniversary wedding party with a few glasses of Red Square Russian vodka that his students had given to him as a present. Taranaki Halamoana Awards

It seems that sometimes alcohol can help you see more clearly.

A New Zealand man, blinded by vodka, had his sight regained by whiskey.

Denis Duthie, a chef who has suffered from diabetes for 20 years, celebrated at his parents' 50th anniversary wedding party with a few glasses of Red Square Russian vodka that his students had given to him as a present.

That day, he walked into his bedroom and suddenly everything went black.

"I thought it had got dark and I'd missed out on a bit of time but it was only about half-past-three in the afternoon," Duthie said to the New Zealand Herald. "I was fumbling around the bedroom for the light switch but ... I'd just gone completely blind."

Thinking that a good night's sleep would correct the problem, Duthie went to bed. Unfortunately, the next morning, he still could not see, so he went to the local hospital.

"I don't remember much after I arrived in hospital. They put me onto the trolley and into the theatre straight away," he said. "I know the doctor told my wife to say goodbye because they didn't think I'd be coming out again."

Doctors later told him that a strong smell, like that of nail polish remover, emerged from an incision that they made in his stomach.

Doctors initially suspected that Duthie had formaldehyde poisoning. The poisoning can occur when a person drinks methanol and can be treated with ethanol.

However, that day, the hospital had run out of medical ethanol, so a staff member was sent down to a local liquor store, where he bought a bottle of whiskey.

Doctors sent the Johnnie Walker Black Label through a tube to his stomach, hoping for the best.

Their efforts paid off. Duthie woke up five days later, able to see better than he could before the incident.

The ethanol counteracted the methanol, which prevented the methanol from being metabolized into dangerous formaldehyde.

Tony Smith, an intensive care specialist at Auckland City Hospital in New Zealand, clarified the process, saying, "There are two potential ways of doing it: one is to give intravenous ethanol through a drip, but that is not available in all hospitals. There is also nothing wrong with supplying that alcohol via the gastro-intestinal tract, which is what they've chosen to do in this circumstance, and that's a well established treatment. If the patient's awake they can just drink it."

Denis Duthie said that the doctor informed him that his case was caused by alcohol mixing with his four diabetes medications.

He has not had a drink of alcohol since.

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