If you’re just sitting down to a meal, you may want to postpone it until later. If you need a reason to feel grateful about your country’s health care system or are looking for a new name for your band, you’ve come to the right place. Doctor’s in Vietnam treating a man for severe headaches were astonished when they opened his skull and found maggots. They were even more surprised when they realized the maggots had actually saved his life.
Pham Quang Lanh was working as a laborer in Malaysia in 2012 when he was accidentally hit on the head with an iron bar. Malaysian doctors inserted a titanium plate in his skull but Lanh began to have severe headaches and swelling around the plate in 2014. Unable to afford additional treatment since he was still paying for the original surgery, he endured the pain until March 2015 when his family noticed maggots in the scar tissue and took him to Hanoi’s Viet Duc Hospital.
Dr. Nguyen Duc Anh described what they found in Lanh’s swollen head.
In fact the reason that it was swollen was because it was infected and eventually some tissue had died leaving him with the festering injury. When we took him into surgery we discovered several maggots which were removed. We then needed to carry out a full operation to remove the maggots that had managed to go deeper. But remarkably, it was revealed that the maggots … had actually saved the man’s life … the maggots had not gone on to eat any of his brain because of the metal plate, and actually may have kept him alive by eating the dead tissue that might otherwise have made the infection spread more quickly and killed him.
Maggot (fly larvae) infestation in the human head is extremely rare. Dr. Anh found only eight known cases of head myiasis – being infested with maggots in the skull – and all of the patients died.
In honor of Lanh becoming the first person ever to survive head myiasis, here’s Maggot Brain by Funkadelic.
If you’re more into death metal, you may prefer “A Skull Full of Maggots” (warning – it’s death metal!) by Cannibal Corpse. However, after listening to it, I think Skull Maggots works better as a band name.