Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 25, 2008

Ministry awaits starfruit case report

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:16 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is still waiting for the report from a hospital in Shenzhen, China, to find out why a retired assistant headmaster suffered a seizure after eating starfruit and slipped into a coma.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the ministry was just as anxious as the media and public to know the reason for Tang Gon Seang’s coma and the current condition of his health.
Some health experts, nutritionists and starfruit industry players feel that pesticide residue on the fruit is the reason why Tang, 66, had to be hospitalised.
However, when commenting on Tang’s case at a press conference on Tuesday, Professor Dr Tan Si Yen of the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) said some medical experts think the fruit is dangerous to renal failure patients.
This is because it contains a particular neurotoxin and has a high level of oxalic acid.
MCA public service and complaints bureau chief Datuk Michael Chong, when contacted, said that Tang was still comatose and had shown no improvement.
He said Tang’s family was making arrangements to bring him back by the end of the month so that he could be admitted at the UMMC.
Meanwhile, Wisma Putra said that it had been in touch with Chong and Malaysia’s consulate-general in Guangzhou to get updates on Tang’s condition and to help Tang’s family, if they request it, to fly him back.
“There are procedures to be adhered to, including obtaining letters from the relevant parties, to fly him back to Malaysia.
“There is a need to ensure that nothing happens to him during the flight,” said a spokesman from Wisma Putra.
Tang, a former assistant headmaster of SRJK (C) Kwong Hwa in Butterworth, went to China on Feb 18 with his wife, Teoh Hui Fong, 58, to visit their son, who works there as an engineer.
Tang fell unconscious there on March 29 and slipped into a coma soon after being admitted to hospital.
A specialist diagnosed his condition as being caused by the starfruit he had eaten.
More than 10 patients at the Shenzhen hospital also suffered similar symptoms after eating starfruit.

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