by: William D. Dean
Co D 3/187th Abn Inf, 101st Airborne Division
© 1999

The Worm surgery.
Surgeon removing worm.I was a platoon leader with Co D 3/187th Abn Inf, 101st Airborne Division in South Vietnam. I was wounded on August 8 1970 while on patrol with my platoon. As a result of these wounds I was medevaced to the 85th Evac Hospital near Hue.

Having been in the hospital ward for a couple of days, I was allowed to roam at will. One morning I heard a lot of laughter and loud excited talk coming from the ward nursing station. Upon approaching, it became clear that all attention was focused on a pill bottle that one of the nurses was holding. She handed it to me and I found myself looking at a worm a couple inches long. I could not see anything exciting about this worm and said so. The nurse then focused my attention on what looked like several small pieces of thread attached to the worm. On looking closer I could see that these pieces of thread also were knotted. The nurse proudly informed me that these threads were surgical sutures. This again left me puzzled, so the nurse began her story.

The worm had been found in a stool sample collected from a wounded Vietnamese boy there at the hospital. The nurses checked the samples to see if the Vietnamese patients had worms and thus needed medication for it. It seems that this was a very common problem for many Vietnamese as well as some American patients. This one worm had really gotten her attention when she noted the sutures.

As it would happen, the doctor that had operated on the child arrived for rounds and was presented with this prize. I guess since he was not sure of what to say, he commented on how professional his sutures were. A lively discussion then followed. The doctor's final opinion: that during surgery on the boys intestinal and stomach area, he must have thought that the worm was a vessel and had tied it off by mistake. As the surgery had been long and hard, this was the best that anyone could come up with.

So ends the mystery of the sutured worm.

Snake on a Pole. Animated.

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