Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Man Dies After Cooking and Eating Pufferfish

A man fell into a coma and eventually died after cooking and eating a pufferfish that was gifted to him.

Magno Sergio Gomes died in a hospital after becoming paralyzed by the pufferfish’s toxins, which are 1,000 times more lethal than cyanide. He also suffered seizures before his death.

According to his sister, he had cooked the pufferfish for himself and a friend, the latter of whom miraculously survived the deadly poison.

Her sister said their family has no idea where the pufferfish came from and whether it was farmed or wild-caught.

magno sergio homes
46-year-old Magno Sergio Gomes died after cooking and eating a pufferfish, that was gifted to him by a friend

Her brother also didn’t have any experience preparing and cleaning pufferfish. He and his friend had allegedly only removed its liver, before boiling and eating it with lime.

Gomes and his friend felt the effects of the pufferfish within an hour of eating the meal. According to his sister, his mouth had started to feel numb, which led him to drive himself to the hospital.

However, he soon went into cardiac arrest. He also suffered many seizures, which affected his brain and significantly lowered his chance of survival.

gomes with sister
His sister Myrian says her brother was not experienced with preparing and cooking pufferfish

He was eventually intubated by doctors and put on life support. He died over a month later on January 27.

His sister said they were told that he had died from poisoning, which ‘traveled to his head’.

While Gomes’ friend survived the ordeal, he is still experiencing effects from the pufferfish toxin, which has affected his ability to walk. However, he is recovering.

Why is Pufferfish So Toxic?

Pufferfish contain a poison called tetrodotoxin, which makes them lethal and foul-tasting to other fish. This goes for all species of pufferfish, even if they aren’t puffed up.

The toxin, which is mainly found in the fish’s sex organs and liver, is up to 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide. There’s also enough tetrodotoxin in one puffish to kill more than two dozen adult humans. Currently, there’s no antidote.

In Brazil, where the incident took place, there are more than twenty species of pufferfish, with over half residing in Espirito Santa.

Pufferfish is a Delicacy

In Japan, pufferfish aka ‘fugu’ is considered to be a delicacy. Chefs who serve pufferfish also undergo more than three years of training.


However, fugu specialist Yutaka Sasaki, with more than four decades of experience with pufferfish, says that serving the fish requires a much longer apprenticeship – one that spans at least 10 years.

Still, people die from eating the fish. In Japan alone, approximately 50 deaths can be traced back to pufferfish poisoning every year, with most cases being attributed to inexperienced chefs.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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