Dr Le Van Lam explained that there are two forms of alcohol – ethanol and the more dangerous methanol.
Commercial alcohol usually has the methanol removed but it can still be present in bootleg booze.
The liver processes ethanol first, and when Nhat’s liver began processing the methanol it went through a chemical reaction that produces potentially lethal formic acid.
To save Nhat’s life, doctors immediately transfused three cans of beer straight into his stomach so his liver would switch back to processing ethanol – allowing them time to perform dialysis.
Every hour, another can of beer was administered until a total of 15 cans finally saw Nhat regain consciousness.
It was three weeks before Nhat was discharged, but considering formic acid poisoning can cause blindness, damage to the nervous system or death, Nhat is a very lucky man.