Apparently, this guy in Russia thought he had cancer and went into hospital for treatment. When they opened him up they found a small sapling growing in his lung. The specialist believes that he must have inhaled a pine seed and it had germinated.
Fairly straightforward explanation, you’d think? Not so for The Sun’s journos. They needed to create a graphic to explain this difficult concept:
As you can see from this, the Pine Tree (1) shed some seeds, one of which found its way into a human (2) via the mouth, thence it traveled into his lung (3) where it germinated (inset).
I’m really glad they did this. I’d never have understood the idea that the guy breathed it in and it sprouted in his lung unless they had.
On the story itself, I’m a little sceptical. The small shoot in the picture is actually green – photosynthesis is taking place – so the shoot must have been growing in the light. As I recall from my school and University biology lectures. sunlight doesn’t really get into the lungs. I suppose the guy in question must also have inhaled a small torch as well? And some fertiliser – it looks pretty healthy, that shoot.
You could just about imagine a sprouting seed… only just, though. But something approaching a small shrubbery is a little harder to swallow (or inhale).
EDIT: I can’t believe the traffic this post is generating. Even after 2 weeks it is pulling in dozens of people! And it seems to go in cycles.
I would imagine that the Russian guy has been pruned by now. They may even be turning him into a nice range of furniture as we speak.
EDIT 19/09/2009: Hi to the people at Battlepage, who have sent this one skywards yet again! Haven’t got a clue what you guys are saying, but Hi anyway!
EDIT 22/09/2010: This story has been by far the most accessed on this blog, attracting daily hits without fail. However, it seems to have experienced some sort of renaissance today. Can someone tell me what is going on? Hits are coming from everywhere, so I can’t attribute it to a single media story anywhere.
EDIT 23/09/2010: Ah! I think I sussed it – here’s an updated story about some American guy who had a pea growing in his lung. It’s hot off the press and contains a TV interview.
EDIT 13/05/2011: This story has had yet another renaissance. Something has obviously happened over in America (and Canada), because all the hits are coming from there – and today the hit rate has gone sky-high again.
EDIT 1/6/2011: A-ha! A reader from New York tells me that this was the subject of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (Season 7, Episode 21) , which was recently shown in the US. The same episode is on Sky TV tonight, so it’ll be interesting to see if it triggers many more UK hits.
EDIT 14/11/2011: Yet another rush of hits on this story. Just to remind everyone that it probably isn’t just a germinating seed anymore, but has grown into a healthy sapling!
EDIT 10/8/2012: Don’t forget the update to this story, where some guy in America had a pea germinating inside him