A large machine allegedly found in the room where Dhammakaya Temple founder Phra Dhammachayo used to stay has been identified as a multi-million-baht hyperbaric chamber - sparking debate on social media that the device might be the reason for the fugitive monk's well-preserved appearance.
The image of the machine went viral on social media following the raid on Dhammakaya Temple on Wednesday in search of the former abbot, who has at least two arrest warrants issued against him.
According to an article on Mahidol University's website by trauma surgeon Dr Supaporn Opasanon, from the institution's Faculty of Medicine (Siriraj Hospital), the device is used in hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.
The therapy involved breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurised space or via a tube to boost the oxygen intake into a patient's body, the doctor said.
This helped the patient to have better cell and capillary growth while their white blood cells had a higher capacity to destroy germs, the doctor said.
The blood supply to organs improved, swelling was reduced and air bubbles in the blood supply were also reduced.
Supaporn said hyperbaric oxygen therapy was effective in treating chronic wounds from diabetes or radiation injuries, as well as serious infections with swelling of cells or bones.
It was also helpful in preventing a disability from organ removal and when battling serious swollen wounds.
Facebook user Wirangrong Dabbaransi commented that the device cost Bt15 million (S$608,000) and was used by cosmetic hospitals for rejuvenation treatments.
Wirangrong speculated that the device might have been used to treat the monk's injured leg on a regular basis, meaning there was a higher chance he was still in the temple's sprawling Pathum Thani compound.
She urged authorities to seize the device or seal the room it is kept in.
"If you can't find Phra Dhammachayo, just follow the device and you will," she said.
Another said the device should be seized.