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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 15:21 GMT
Whisky cure after anti-freeze error
Doctors at Ninewells Hospital prescribed whisky
A woman who drank anti-freeze was prescribed whisky as an antidote after her potentially life-threatening mistake.

Glennis Middleton, from Forfar in Angus, was told that anti-freeze can cause kidney failure, blindness and even death.

Doctors at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee told her that alcohol was the antidote and gave her a choice of gin, vodka or whisky.

She chose whisky - known as the "water of life" - and was given two cupfuls to drink immediately.

Whisky bottles
Whisky is often called the water of life

Doctors stress that the correct dose has to be given and blood levels monitored thereafter.

Mrs Middleton drank antifreeze left on a table by a relative who she was helping decorate her house.

She said she was "stunned" when doctors told her how serious it could be.

"It's amazing the number of people who have spoken to me to say that they keep antifreeze in the back of the car - and that's people with toddlers.

Sufficient to kill

"There was a four to five hour waiting time at the accident and emergency department, but I got taken in after about 30 seconds.

"The doctors say about 100 millilitres of antifreeze is sufficient to kill you - I had between half a cupful and a cupful of the stuff.

"I think it's all the more dangerous because it doesn't taste bad - I thought it was particularly strongly-flavoured water. It didn't taste bitter."

She added: "The medical staff at Ninewells were concerned about me because they previously had a patient who died 22 hours after taking it.

"I was thinking that I was all right and that I had more important things to do but the doctor was saying to me 'you could die here, woman, you must stay'."

The potential is that it causes kidney failure and can cause seizures, and the methanol can cause blindness

Dr Shobhan Thakore
Asked if she had known alcohol was the antidote, Mrs Middleton replied: "I would not personally have assumed that, no, but that's the most effective thing against ethylene glycol, which effectively breaks down the kidneys and the liver.

"It stops the kidneys and the liver from working and then you die."

Dr Shobhan Thakore, of Ninewells Hospital's A&E department, said: "Potentially, fairly small amounts (of antifreeze) can kill you.

"When the body breaks them down it makes products which are toxic.

"The potential is that it causes kidney failure and can cause seizures, and the methanol can cause blindness."

See also:

03 Dec 02 | Scotland
21 Nov 02 | Scotland
05 Sep 02 | Business
14 Aug 02 | England
12 Jun 02 | Scotland
13 Jun 02 | Business
Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


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