Stone Baby: Surgeons successfully operate on woman to remove dead fetus she carried for 13 years

Stone Baby: Surgeons successfully operate on woman to remove dead fetus she carried for 13 years

- Hawa Adan from Ethiopia had presented herself with 13 years of abdominal swelling and doctors in Ethiopia could not tell what ailed her

- In September 2020, she visited Mandera County Referral Hospital where she was diagnosed with lithopedion

- Lithopedion is a Greek word used to describe a fetus that has become stony or petrified

- At the referral hospital, Hawa was operated on and delivered a stone baby successfully

- After scrutiny, the surgeons found it was a male infant which was complete with placenta and cord weighing 1.75kg

The Mandera County Referral Hospital (MCRH) on Tuesday, November 17, successfully conducted a rare historic operation of a woman who had an abdominal swelling for years.

Stone Baby: Mandera surgeons successfully operate on woman to remove baby she carried for 13 years
The team of medics who operated on Hawa Adan at the Mandera County Referral Hospital. Photo: Chrispus Alex.
Source: UGC

Surgeons from the referral hospital operated on 31-year-old Hawa Adan from Ethiopia who had presented herself with 13 years abdominal swelling.

A tweet posted by Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) showed Hawa had previously visited most hospitals in Ethiopia but was not given any diagnosis in any of them.

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It was not until September 2020 when she tried her luck at the Mandera Referral Hospital where after intensive investigations including CT scans, she was diagnosed to have lithopedion.

Lithopedion is a word derived from the Greek words lithos, meaning stone, and paidion, meaning child, to describe a fetus that has become stony or petrified.

According to Journal of Medical Case Reports, lithopedion is a rare complication of pregnancy which occurs when a fetus dies and becomes too large to be reabsorbed by the body.

This entity in rare circumstances can be challenging for physicians to diagnose since it has a range of clinical manifestations and is a very rare condition across the globe.

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The reported cases in the entire world are 300. There is no single reported case in East and Central Africa.

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However, at MCRH, Hawa was operated on and delivered a stone baby successfully.

After closer scrutiny, it was a male infant, complete with placenta and cord weighing 1.75kg.

The woman is now recovering at the surgical unit of the hospital.

Lithopedion is reported to occur in a situation where a fertilised ovum grows into the tubes instead of implanting in the uterus cavity.

The fallopian tube can only allow expanding of the foetus to a certain limit beyond which it will either rapture or discharge the product of conception through the fallopian tube to the abdomen cavity.

Most are lost at this point because of the harsh extra-uterine environment but few end up developing.

In Hama's case, the foetus is said to have developed into the abdominal cavity to approximately past 30 weeks at the point when the foetus was lost.

In areas with a good health facility, the diagnosis is prompt and surgical removal is done.

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Hawa is said to have been diagnosed in September 2020 but she did not show up for the scheduled surgical until Monday, November 16, and was operated on the following day by a team of surgeons and gynaecologists at MCRH.

The good news came barely hours after another team of surgeons in Uganda's Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital separated Siamese twins.

The team of highly specialised doctors just needed 20 hours to successfully go about the operation that ended on the morning of Tuesday, November 17, as previously reported by

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and her Permanent Secretary Diana Atwine both confirmed the development via their Twitter handles.


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