updated 9/22/2008 1:24:40 PM ET 2008-09-22T17:24:40

An Israeli hospital is blaming complications stemming from a tongue piercing for the death of a 20-year-old soldier.

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Rambam Hospital spokesman David Ratner said the soldier collapsed in July a few days after having his tongue pierced. Ratner said doctors determined the piercing caused a rare brain infection.

He said the soldier spent a month in intensive care, was transferred to a smaller hospital to recover, then collapsed again over the weekend. The 20-year-old soldier returned to Rambam, was diagnosed with liver failure and died early Sunday.

Ratner said experts are trying to determine whether human error contributed to his death.

The Israeli military said it bans tongue piercing.

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