Biology is a science of exception, and the human body has always shown this in the form of the most complex and bizarre genetic and physical malformations. From a condition causing people to produce tears that are partially composed of blood (Haemolacria) to a boy born with less than 2% of the brain, biological wonders constantly keep the medical community on their toes. Here we narrate one such medical aberration that may leave you stoned. (Sorry, stunned!)
In 1955, a Moroccan woman got pregnant with her first child and was scheduled for a caesarean section at a local hospital. However, after seeing another woman died during childbirth, she fled the hospital.
Zahra Aboutalib, a 26-year-old woman living in a village outside Casablanca, Morocco, got pregnant for the first time. After suffering labor pain for 48 hours, she was rushed to a local hospital where doctors prepare her for the caesarean section. There, she saw another woman died in terrible pain during childbirth. This caused her to flee the hospital thinking that if she had stayed she would meet the same fate.
Zahra kept feeling excruciating labor pains but suffered no miscarriage, and the pain stopped after a few days. She believed in the Sleeping Child Moroccan myth and went on to live a normal life adopting three children.
Sleeping child is a Moroccan and Maghrebian folk tale which says that black and white magic can make a fetus dormant, and it may wake up and be born after the normal gestation period. Even Article 154 of the current Mudawana (Family code in the Moroccan law) states that a child born 1 year after the separation is considered to be fathered by the ex-husband. Zahra believed in this Moroccan myth strongly. Furthermore, once the labor pains stopped, she started living her life as usual and even became a grandmother. However, she never gave birth to a child.
After 46 years, suddenly her pain returned. Then, the ultrasound scan revealed a large unidentifiable mass, which was later identified by MRI scan to be her unborn baby.
When her pain suddenly returned at age 75, her son took her to the Professor Taibi Ouazzani. He suspected ovarian tumor because of her protruding belly. Hence, he arranged an ultrasound scan. The scan showed an unidentifiable large mass. He suspected that it was some kind of calcified structure, and so he referred her to a specialist radiographer. Finally, the MRI scan confirmed that it was indeed her calcified unborn baby.
Zahra had an ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus had burst the fallopian tube and was developing in the Abdominal cavity. Later, the dead fetus has become a foreign material. Therefore, the mother’s body has formed a calciferous shell around it mummifying the fetus. Surgeons successfully removed the fetus from Zahra’s body.
It was concluded that Zahra had suffered from the ectopic pregnancy, where the egg had implanted itself in the fallopian tube, and it burst the same fallopian tube during development, coming to lie in the Abdominal cavity. The fetus had attached itself through the placenta to the vital organs around Zahra’s stomach. It was a hard decision whether operating would be safe or not.
When the surgeons operated, it was discovered that the fetus was entirely calcified and was a hard, solid lump. Basically, a stone baby, which was fused with Zahra’s abdominal wall and vital organs.
After nearly 4 hours, the surgeons successfully removed the calcified fetus from her. The fetus weighed 7lb, and it was 42cm in length.
Check this video below:
What is a Lithopedion or a Stone Baby?
In cases of ectopic pregnancy, if the dead fetus is not able to be reabsorbed by mother’s body due to its large size, the mother’s body treats it as a foreign material and may trigger immune actions against it.
A calciferous shell that forms around the dead fetus to protect the mother from any infection causes the tissues of dead fetus to be dehydrated (mummified) making it a lithopedion or stone baby. It can occur from 14 weeks gestation to full term. The earliest mention of Lithopedion dates back to 1100 BC, Texas.