A 59-year-old woman in the Dominican Republic had been suffering sharp stomach pains for decades – and didn’t know what was causing them.
It turns out she had unknowingly been carrying a dead fetus for at least 30 years, Dominican health officials said.
The mummified remains of the fetus, which weighed 3 pounds and 12 ounces, were found during an X-ray exam of the woman. Miladys Roman, the chief gynecologist at Luis Eduardo Aybar Hospital in Santo Domingo, said the woman told doctors she had long experience pains but never received adequate medical attention.
This week, she entered a public hospital with digestive complaints and that’s when they learned of the petrified fetus, or stone child, of probably of three to five months of gestation.
Petrified fetuses are rare, but they do happen. In 1996, a doctor found a dead fetus that had been inside a Brazilian woman for 15 years.
“"I was shocked when told I had been pregnant so long. During all this time, my belly never swelled," the woman told a São Paulo paper at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Ten years earlier in Mexico, an 86-year-old woman hospitalized for a digestive complaint was found to be carrying a full-term, mummified fetus in her abdomen for more than 60 years.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, an OB-GYN who serves as a senior medical contributor for the Fox News Channel and managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said what typically happens when that happens is it starts out as an ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus attaches itself onto the Fallopian tubes, then grows so much it falls into the abdominal cavity. Gradually, the fetus becomes calcined.
“It sustains itself in the body and calcifies to protect the body from any infection,” Alvarez said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
You can reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org