Russian doctors have stumbled upon a remarkable tale of survival. They detail finding a needle that has been lodged inside an 80-year-old woman’s brain her entire life. The needle seems to be the result of a botched infanticide, but it has apparently caused no major health issues and will not be removed.
The strange case was reported earlier this month by local health officials in Sakhalin, a remote island off the far east region of Russia. The woman’s doctors reportedly discovered the 3-centimeter needle during an unrelated CT scan of her brain. The images of the needle can be seen on the health department’s Telegram page.
According to the health department, the needle was likely inserted by the girl’s parents soon after her birth in 1943. Tragically, families faced with food shortages in regions affected by World War II would sometimes choose to kill their infants, often using this method in particular. The needle would be inserted into the brain’s fontanelle—the baby’s soft spot—which would then quickly close up and remove any evidence of the act.
”Such cases during years of famine were not uncommon,” the local health department said in its statement.
Amazingly, despite the needle penetrating the woman’s parietal lobe, she survived. More than that, she appears to have not experienced serious health issues as a result of the injury, not even headaches. And she’s not thought to be in any danger currently. Given the possibility that trying to remove the needle could actually harm her, her attending physician has simply decided to monitor her condition, according to the health department.
The brain is known to sometimes be incredibly resilient to physical harm, depending on the site and type of injury. In some cases, people have lost an entire hemisphere of their brain and still been able to function relatively well. People who get these injuries when very young might be more likely to survive with few complications, since the brain is especially capable of making and rewiring new connections early on in life.
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