Having anything for six decades is a long time. Whether it is a fruitful marriage or even a stuffed animal from childhood, when things pass through the decades, they grow more special and rare. But one woman from Chile had an object in her body for more than sixty years. She thought it was a tumor, but when she finally got around to having it removed, the truth brought her to tears. It was the unborn fetus of a child and she had always wanted to have children – she just didn’t know she was carrying one for decades.
Doctors in the tiny village of La Boca, Chile were shocked to find a calcified fetus in the uterus of an elderly woman. She never knew she had gotten pregnant and always dreamed of starting a family of her own.
Estela Meléndez was 91 when the truth came out. She knew she always had the lump on her belly for decades. She assumed it was a benign tumor and had ignored it all this time. She had no clue that it was a calcified fetus that that she had been carrying for most of her life.
As she aged, Estela grew hard of hearing and crippled with arthritis. She can still move about but she has slowed down. Otherwise, she is healthy as a horse.
Only when she fell recently and went to the doctors did the physicians find the shocking thing on her X-ray.
“The doctor said I had a tumor and that they needed to operate on me,” Estela told CNN.
But before they put the knife to the elderly woman, they conducted a second X-ray to verify the tumor. The reality of the situation was something the doctors had never seen before. The hardened mass in her abdomen was not a tumor but an unborn fetus.
“I have the lump here,” Estela says, touching her belly.
Despite being married her husband Manuel González for 74 years, she and he never were able to have children. This was the greatest regret of Estela’s life.
They had lived together their entire adult lives and Manuel made his living as a fisherman. He also operated a boat in the coastal town. They were happy but always dreamed of growing their own family. Little did Estella know but she was pregnant after all.
Just a few months before she learned about the calcified fetus, her husband died at the age of 91.
“We suffered tremendously because of this reason,” Estela said.
Estela’s family was just as shocked at the news as was everyone in the small community. Her nephew couldn’t believe it.
“Can you imagine? More than 60 years!” said Luis Meléndez, the woman’s nephew. “I wonder how she never felt bad once the fetus died inside of her.”
Because the fetus does not cause any risk to Estela’s health, the doctors decided not to operate. While it hurts sometimes, it’s usually just a bit uncomfortable. And Estela would rather deal with the discomfort because the lump reminds her of her husband and the unlived dream of starting a family.
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