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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Toothbrush swallower to aid charity
The brush had found its way into the student's stomach
A trainee teacher who swallowed her toothbrush rushing to a lecture has agreed to donate money to a children's charity.

Vania Lucchesi, 23, of Cardiff, was rushing to prepare for morning lectures when she stumbled in her bathroom and swallowed her toothbrush.

University of Wales Hospital at the Heath, Cardiff
Surgeons at the University of Wales Hospital operated
Surgeons at the University Hospital of Wales performed an operation to remove the object from her stomach.

Now Ms Lucchesi, who has been asked to appear on television shows, has agreed to donate her appearance fees to the Noah's Ark Appeal for a children's hospital in Wales.

The accident happened when the student stumbled out of her bathroom.

She had the presence of mind to take a taxi to hospital, where she told nurses: "You'll never guess what I've done."

Attempts to hook the pink brush out through Miss Lucchesi's throat were unsuccessful and doctors were forced to remove it surgically through her stomach.

Brush slipped

The University of Wales Institute student described the frightening moment when she felt the brush slip down her throat and through her body.

"I missed the step in the bathroom, my neck went back and I gasped with fright," she said.

"I could feel the brush in my windpipe. It felt painful and I was scared, and then it slipped down into my stomach."

I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. It was a full-sized toothbrush

Sam Safar, surgeon
She was able to telephone for a lift from her home in the Cathays area to the hospital and was seen by doctors immediately.

Nurses wheeled Miss Lucchesi to casualty, where an X-ray showed the toothbrush lodged in her stomach.

Doctors used a miniature endoscope camera and decided the safest way to remove the toothbrush was to make a small incision in the student's stomach in order to remove it surgically.

She was in surgery for 15 minutes.

'Rare accident'

Surgeon Sam Safar said: "I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. It was a full-sized toothbrush.

"We tried to use a scope to pull it out but there was no hole in the brush handle to get a grip on so we had to operate.

"This is a very rare accident which could have been extremely serious had the brush got stuck and blocked the patient's airways."

Miss Lucchesi has now been released from hospital and is due to return to her teacher training studies.

See also:

14 Jul 01 | Health
How not to use a toothbrush
08 Sep 00 | Scotland
Brushing 'halves' child tooth decay
26 Jul 01 | Health
Video toothbrush hunts 'debris'
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