Saint John — In a stunning verdict from a panel of medical professionals, beer has been found guilty of killing the liver of a well-known Saint John businessman, Ted Orignal. Initially, the cause of death was regarded as a mystery and all evidence of a killer considered to be circumstantial at best. However, a panel of health professionals emerged from sequestration at the Saint John Regional Hospital on Saturday to announce their verdict.
Speaking to The Manatee on the condition of anonymity, one of the panel members clarified that it was not actually the beer per se, but rather Orignal’s level of consumption of the beverage that killed the organ. “After speaking to Ted’s friends and family, it’s clear that he liked his beer so much that he drank what’s considered — medically speaking — to be an excessive amount,” said the doctor. “You can only do that for so long before your liver begins to look like it was burned by dry ice.”
The human liver can usually cope with drinking a small amount of alcohol. However, if a person drinks too much or too quickly, the liver cells struggle to process it. When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde that can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm to the brain and stomach lining. This scarring leads to cirrhosis and eventually to liver failure.
Orignal, an alpine skiing enthusiast, owned and operated a boat repair shop specializing in fixing cracked canoes. After a hard day at the shop, he decided to go home and drown his sorrows by drinking an entire pail of ale. He then lay in bed reading about loggers by the illumination of his moose light (see photo) when he quietly passed away. When he was found the next morning, the medical panel was assembled to see what ailed him.
The victim was certainly not alone in his love for beer. In a 2012 survey by Statistics Canada, an estimated 126,000 New Brunswickers aged 12 years and older were deemed heavy drinkers — having 5 or more drinks in one sitting at least once per month in the past year. Other recent surveys showed that about 30 percent of New Brunswick males were heavy drinkers, compared to approximately 10 percent of females. In 2013-14, New Brunswick had the second highest average length of hospital stay in Canada for alcohol-related medical conditions.
While the uncertainty surrounding Orignal’s death has been ruled upon, Saint Johners like uptown resident Clancy Radler are still incredulous. “To accept this verdict, one would have to believe that a group of professionals found evidence that they used to establish their conclusions, and convinced a panel that everything happened the way they think it did.
“Personally,” said Radler, “I’m not prepared to accept it. I’ve read the comments section on the CBC New Brunswick’s web story on this death and those experts seem to think there’s reason to doubt the verdict. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I’m going substitute my own layman’s expertise and continue to believe what I want about this complete stranger.”