Imagine this. It’s the middle of the night. You are inserting a plastic line into an artery so you can do surgery, and then it happens: The blood, instead of being bright red, is green:

“During insertion, we normally see arterial blood come out. That’s how we know we’re in the right place. And normally that blood is bright red, as you would expect in an artery,” Flexman said in an interview Thursday.

“But in his case, the blood kept coming back as dark green instead of bright red.

“It was sort of a green-black. … Like an avocado skin maybe.”

The reaction in the room? “We were very concerned, obviously,” said Flexman, who is training in anesthesia at the hospital.

Well, that’s different.

All Trekkies know that Mr. Spock and other Vulcans have green blood, as do many insects, but a human?

Well, blue blood is not unknown: it’s called Methemoglobin  and is something we have to think about when we see a blue patient after we’ve checked he has enough oxygen.
The classic story about this condition is “Eleven Blue Men”, about an epidemic caused by putting sodium nitrate into salt shakers.
But green? Turns out it is sulfhemoglobin, a condition thought to be triggered by some medications, including the migraine medicine which doctors suspect might have been taken in larger than recommended doses.

One more for the books.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes medical essays at HeyDoc Xanga Blog 


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