Illusionist David Blaine was entering the final day of his starvation stunt today amid warnings that he could die when he starts taking food again.
For the last 44 days Blaine has been suspended in the small, transparent container next to
London’s Tower Bridge, with water apparently his only sustenance.
In the run-up to his release tonight, there has been speculation that the US magician may have tricked the public.
But according to the latest medical briefing on his condition, Blaine shows signs of starvation.
His re-introduction to food must be managed carefully to avoid potentially serious problems, including sudden death from “re-feeding syndrome”, the briefing said.
Nutrition expert Professor Marinos Elia, who prepared the briefing, said Blaine showed several symptoms of starvation and appeared “visibly thinner” than when he entered his box.
The water which has apparently been the only substance Blaine has consumed during the stunt contained no detectable solids, such as glucose or sodium, said Professor Elia from the University of Southampton.
Blaine has suffered dizziness and temporary visual problems “as if blacking out” when he stands up and he has felt weaker and more lethargic, the briefing said.
The cold nights have also had “a draining effect” on him.
“These features, which are typical of starvation, have also been accompanied by other symptoms, such as shooting pains in different parts of his body, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and some irregular heart beats.”
The briefing concluded: “There is a need for careful nutritional and clinical management of David Blaine after the fast, not only because of the specific symptoms he has experienced during the fast, but also because inappropriate feeding can precipitate serious problems including sudden death (the re-feeding syndrome).”
In the immediate aftermath of his quest, Blaine will gradually build up his strength with mineral supplements and foodstuffs, his spokesman claimed.
“He won’t be able to start eating properly for some period of time,” said the spokesman. “He could be in hospital for a few days or more than a week.”
He said the magician could take as long as six months to recover his muscle strength and be fully restored to fitness.
Blaine’s girlfriend, Manon van Gerkan, who has been in regular contact and mounted a vigil outside his box to ward off egg throwers, said she was looking forward to seeing him.
“I’m very proud of David and I can’t wait to see him,” she said. “I would like to thank everybody for their tremendous support.”
Sky One, which has been filming Blaine’s progress, said an estimated 250,000 people would have visited the site between September 5 and the end of the stunt.
The self-styled Houdini is expected to be released from his glass cell between 9pm and 10pm tonight before a crowd of thousands.
He will be placed on a stretcher and taken from the scene to a private hospital.
The event will be shown live on Sky One from 9pm and repeated on Channel 4, with a medical update tomorrow.