A case report, that has gone viral in the medical community, details the story of a man who refused emergency medical care until his pet chicken was treated first.
The case report, titled: ‘When patients priorities conflict with those on their medical team; a challenging case of a bleeding patient and his dying pet’ tells the story of a man with internal bleeding who had smuggled his pet chicken onto the high dependency ward.
It brought joy to readers in its mentions of ‘a rudimentary HDU bed’ made out of a cardboard box for the chicken, named Lunch, and ‘poultry resuscitation attempts’, plus an eventual early morning funeral for Lunch who sadly passed away.
The report was published in the BMJ Case Reports at the end of January.
The patient, Prodan Stoyanov, 50, from Hounslow, said: “I loved him very much, like my own child.
“I don’t have children, so my power for love was given to the chicken.”
Lunch and Prodan had been best friends for over six years.
Prodan secretly brought Lunch to the hospital with the rest of his luggage, due to not having a permanent residence at the time, nor anyone to take care of Lunch.
Prodan would give Lunch food and water while the chicken was stored away.
During the night, Prodan’s condition deteriorated and suspicion arose around the locker which contained Prodan’s luggage.
Despite his ill-health, there was still time for humour.
Prodan said: “I made a joke that there was a snake in the locker.”
When released, the chicken was unwell and Prodan, despite losing large quantities of blood refused the emergency medical procedure he required.
Prodan “I think we had a very good connection. I was having a bad time and he was having a bad time.
“I said no because I cared about the chicken first.”
Despite the medical teams best efforts, which included rehydration attempts ‘via malt biscuits crushed in water’, a call to the RSPCA and to a veterinary service, Lunch passed away.
Prodan was understandably overcome with grief.
Authors of the case report, Doctor John Shenouda and Doctor Matthew Clayton were present at the incident, which occurred at Northwick Park Hospital in October 2019.
It was Clayton who sat and spoke with Prodan and struck a deal that if Prodan would go for his procedure, they would hold a funeral for Lunch.
Clayton said: “If someone’s child was dying in front of them, then anyone would refuse to have an operation.
“In this case, it was really clear that Prodan wasn’t crazy, he wasn’t asking anything mad.
“Once Prodan understood that we had listened to him, we understood why Lunch was so important to him, and he knew that Lunch was going to be buried appropriately and respectively and he was going to be there, Prodan was happy to have the operation.”
The funeral took place between Clayton and Prodan at 9am after Prodan’s procedure, described in the report as ‘to the general bemusement of early morning passing dog-walkers’.
Readers of the report have praised the holistic care given to Prodan.
Shenouda said: “The shift could have gone completely differently.
“The alternative to talking to Prodan and trying to express his opinion was some sort of pharmacological or physical restraint, which in hindsight would have only worsened the situation.”
Clayton added: “That was kind of the key point of the article, it is our job to think a little outside the box and be a bit creative with solutions.
“There’s an awful lot that good teamwork can do.”
The authors have received messages from doctors, vets and even soldiers, expressing the joy that the report brought them.
Clayton said: “At the moment the NHS workforce are very exhausted. Everyone is tired and stressed, and it’s been a very difficult year.
“I think sometimes an article like that reminds us why we all got into it in the first place and actually, there’s more need for compassion nowadays than perhaps ever.”
Prodan is incredibly grateful for the care shown towards him and Lunch by the medical team and is now working in construction.
He recently worked at West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth and is currently working at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Prodan said: “I am very happy to give back a small part of what the NHS did for me.”
Featured image credit: Prodan Stoyanov