An 82-year-old woman in Colombia carried her foetus for nearly 40 years.
The incident came to light only recently when the woman was admitted to a hospital in Bagota for abdominal pain. Though doctors first thought it as a clear case of gastro-enteritis, they noticed some abnormalities in her abdomen on further examination. A team of doctors led by Dr Kemer Ramirez conducted an ultrasound to check whether the woman was troubled by gallstones. However, they couldn't reach a conclusion until they performed an abdominal radiography on her. It showed that she was carrying a dead foetus in the abdomen, a rare medical occurrence known as lithopedion or stone baby, NTD TV reported.
Stone babies are formed when the foetus develops outside the uterus in the abdomen. The foetus dies if it fails to survive in the wrong place. As the body fails to absorb the dead foetus, it calcifies in the abdomen and remains undetected for many years. So far, only 300 cases of stone babies have been recorded in medical history.
"This happens because the fetus does not develop in the uterus because it has moved to another place. In this case, the abdominal part of the woman is not a viable (place) and this is what happened, a calcified fetus because the body is generating defense mechanisms and it is calcified until it stays there encapsulated," Dr Ramirez told NTD TV.
In a similar case, a 92-year-old Chinese woman named Huang Yijun made headlines for carrying her stone baby for nearly 60 years, before giving birth to it in 2009. The woman was aware of her condition since 1948, but didn't take any initiative to remove it as she couldn't afford the cost involved in the surgery.
In another incident in Morocco, a 75-year-old woman named Zahra Aboutalib carried her foetus for 46 years.