The common tradition of tossing coins into a fountain to make a wish almost takes the life of Omsin, a sea turtle that lived in a pond in a town near the Gulf of Thailand. In this particular pond, it is quite usual for people to throw their change, and the presence of the turtle made it seem like even more magical for the locals.

This Monday a group of veterinaries had to conduct an emergency operation to the 25-year old female sea turtle, also dubbed as “Bank” by locals. Over many years, citizens have sought for good fortune in this pond located in the eastern town of Sri Racha, but this is the first time an emergency operation is needed to save the life of the turtle.

This Monday a group of veterinaries had to conduct an emergency operation to Omsin, a 25-year old female sea turtle. Image credit: Skynews

Thais’ belief is that if coins are thrown into the pond where the turtle was, this will bring longevity to them. However, after many years of the tradition being held among locals, a 5 kg ball made of coins was formed in Bank’s stomach. This coin formation produced the cracking of her ventral shell, which generated an infection that almost killed her.

How the life of Bank was saved

A group of neurosurgeons from the Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty were able to remove more than 900 coins that were within Bank’s digestive system. She was anesthetized during the whole 4-hour long operation, as the coin ball formation was too big to be removed through the 10 cm incision made by the surgeons. They had to remove the coins practically one by one, and many of them were corroded or almost absolutely dissolved

According to Pasakorn Briksawan, a member of the surgical team, “the result is satisfactory. Now it’s up to Bank how much she can recover,” and Bank will be in a recovering process for the next weeks. She will undergo a liquid diet treatment for at least 15 days. Bank was transported to the medical facility by a navy team, who found the animal in pain in its home pond.

The group of veterinaries were able to remove more than 900 coins that were within the turtle’s digestive system. Image credit: The Fiscal Times

After the vets had received the sea turtle, they conducted a 3D scan to determine the illness. After the results had been presented, they observed the presence of the coins and two fish hooks that were also removed during the surgery.

According to one of the surgeon team members, after they realized the reason for the pain of Bank, they were greatly enraged. They qualified the situation as an irresponsibility.

“I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle,” said Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary medical aquatic animal research center.

After authorities had announced the delicate situation that Bank was going through, the local media started a campaign that wanted to pay for the turtle’s operation and were able to gather almost £400.

A sea turtle like Bank can live up to 80 years, according to Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of the university’s veterinary faculty. This particular species is qualified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Source: The Guardian