A 5-year-old boy from Othakadai, who reportedly developed respiratory problems after undergoing thokkam treatment, died at the Government Rajaji Hospital here on Monday.
The victim’s father claimed that his son, who was suffering from stomach pain, was subjected to a traditional healing method called ‘Thokkam’. After this, he developed breathing problems and later died at the hospital without responding to treatment.
Thokkam is a traditional technique followed in rural pockets of Madurai district, under which a 15-cm pipe would be inserted into the stomach through the mouth to remove blocks in the digestive system. It is a process reportedly adopted to remove unwanted things like hairs, broken bones and solid waste from the stomach. Further, the person who renders treatment would apply ash on the patient’s stomach and knock it severely.
Siva (5) of Dindiyur near Othakadai, the son of Mookiah, had suffered diarrhoea and severe stomach pain for more than two days. Mookiah took him to a person at Pasiyapuram for thokkam treatment.
The boy was subjected to both the methods as the practitioner applied ashes on his stomach and massaged it. Then he inserted a pipe and brought out a small piece of broken bone from Siva’s stomach. But after this, Siva’s condition became worse as he suffered respiratory problems, said Mookiah.
Following this, Siva was admitted to the ICU of the Government Rajaji Hospital on April 15. Though the boy showed improvements, he breathed his last on Monday morning.
Doctors said thokkam is practised by many in rural pockets. Even, many educated people fall victim to this dangerous method. Those affected by this practice come to the hospital in critical conditions.
In the present case, the boy had contracted infections which had resulted in breathing problems. Because of his age, he could withstand the impact and died. The worst in the boy’s case was that his brain had also got some infection.
However, we can’t conclude that the boy died of thokkam treatment alone. Anything could be said only after the post-mortem report, said a senior doctor from the GRH.
Police are further investigating the incident.