A SOUTH Yorkshire man suffering agonising stomach pains went under the knife after doctors identified the source of the pain was a 9in plastic dinner fork he had swallowed more than a decade ago.
Lee Gardner, aged 40, from Cudworth, had been leaning on a chair playing with the cutlery in his mouth when he accidentally swallowed it.
He was told by a doctor the fork would ‘pass through naturally’ - so forgot about it until he fell ill and was admitted to Barnsley Hospital.
Medics used a camera to look for a cause and found the fork - still intact - in Lee’s stomach.
Lee said: “While they were looking inside me with the camera, the doctor said ‘are you sure you’ve not swallowed anything’.
“I said no, but when he asked again I remembered accidentally swallowing one years ago.
“I couldn’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, but I really didn’t think it could be the fork.”
The fork head was resting in Lee’s stomach with the handle protruding into his small bowel.
Its prongs had pressed on the stomach lining, causing an ulcer.
Hanis Shiwani, consultant general surgeon, decided to extract the fork by carrying out a 45-minute operation.
He said: “Technically it was not a challenging operation, but it was exciting, because it’s not something we have ever done before.
“We know coins, nails, pins and batteries are common things people swallow. but not a fork.”
He said Lee could have suffered a fatal infection if the fork had remained in his stomach.
Mr Shiwani said: “If something does get lodged, then normally a patient would become ill almost immediately.”
Lee is expected to make a full recovery.