Creative commons/Kevincollins123 via flickr Lee Gardner had forgotten swallowing a white plastic fork 10 years ago when he went to hospital this month coughing up blood.

Lee Gardner had forgotten swallowing a white plastic fork 10 years ago when he went to hospital this month coughing up blood.

But there it was, on camera, as Dr. Hanif Shiwani examined the baffled 40-year-old from South Yorkshire, U.K.

“The handle of the fork was in the duodenum,” Shiwani told the Star on Wednesday. “The prong part was in the stomach.”

There it had lain, 23 centimetres of hard plastic stuck at the entrance to the small intestine, for a decade.

“I can’t believe it. I have never had any problems with my stomach, except once a couple of years ago I remember thinking I felt like something had lodged when I bent over awkwardly,” Gardner told the hospital.

It was only when Shiwani looked inside his gut and saw a fork that Gardner said he “remembered accidentally swallowing one years and years ago.”

What was particularly unusual was that it had been forgotten.

“It hadn’t been giving him any symptoms,” said Shiwani, until the prongs started wiggling their way into Gardner’s stomach lining and gouging blood vessels.

The surgery itself was straightforward and simple: “It just involved opening up the stomach and taking out the fork.” Shiwani performed the 45-minute operation at Barnsley General Hospital, South Yorkshire, where he is a consulting surgeon.

The case is anything but routine. Shiwani could find only four other cases in medical journals of an object so large spending so long inside a person.

He’s looking forward to adding to the medical literature with this one, particularly as Gardner, who is unemployed and unmarried, has made a full recovery from the Aug. 1 surgery.

The blackened and stained fork, missing a tine which Shiwani assumes passed through Gardner’s intestines unnoticed, sits in a cupboard at the hospital.

“He didn’t ask for it and I didn’t think to offer it.”

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