• Dr Nantarika (R)
  • Dr Nantarika
  • Dr Nantarika

Condolences pour in after turtle Ormsin loses fight for life

national March 22, 2017 01:00


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THERE was no miracle for Ormsin, the sea turtle that became world-famous after operations by Thai veterinarians to try to save her. The 25-year-old turtle died peacefully yesterday morning, having never woken from a coma after a second round of surgery on the weekend.

“At 10.10am, she went in peace,” said a tearful Dr Nantarika Chansue, chief surgeon of the team that removed 915 coins from the turtle. The discovery of so many coins in her stomach led to her being called “Ormsin”, or ‘Piggy bank’ in Thai.

“She is my friend, teacher and patient. Thank you for being my friend,” she said in a press briefing to announce Ormsin’s death. The turtle had died from a complication from the operations, she said.

The doctor’s Facebook page, which gave updates on Ormsin’s condition from the start of her medical care, was flooded with condolence notes from animal lovers who expressed moral support to Nantarika and the team. One user, Poy Poy, wrote: “Ormsin will not longer be in pain. Thanks to the team that provided care and love for her.” 

Another, Jewwy Journey, said that the loss of the turtle would not be wasted, as many people who previously had no idea about the issue – the risks of throwing coins or other objects into turtle ponds or water containing wildlife – would now be aware. 

Many users said: “Ormsin, please rest in peace.”

The critically injured turtle was given to the doctor for care by a Navy sea animal hospital in Sattahip. A team of vets decided to perform an emergency operation after a CT scan detected a mass of coins inside her body earlier this month. The team knew her chances of survival were slim, considering the numbers of coins and her condition.

The operation removed about five kilograms of coins from Ormsin’s stomach, and the turtle initially appeared to be recovering well. 

However, her condition took a sudden turn over the weekend due to intestine strangulation – she had more empty space in her torso after the operation and her body had to adjust. 

The second operation was unsuccessful, as she had developed blood poisoning from serious intestinal problems. One of the causes of death was the high level of nickel in her bloodstream – 200 times more than normal – because the coins lain in her stomach for a long time.

Ormsin’s plight became a big news item, with daily updates both locally and internationally. Her case was reported by CNN, Time, as well as wire agencies. The |turtle lived for two decades in a small pond in a public park in Chon Buri province. Visitors tossed coins into her pond for “good luck” and the hope it might bring them long life. 

Yesterday, as the Ormsin saga reached its sad end, Dr Nantarika repeated her call for people to stop tossing coins into ponds or animal shelters, so that other animals do not suffer a similar fate.

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