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16 Apr, 2009 04:45

Fir tree man shocks doctors

A young man from the capital of Russia’s Udmurtian Republic was diagnosed with cancer, and had to undergo an operation which revealed the shocking truth – he had no cancer but… a tree growing in his lung.

It sounds like a story from Burger’s Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, when the eccentric Baron shot a cherry stone at a deer and it sprang into a cherry tree on the deer’s head.

For 28-year-old Artyom Sidorkin, though, it was no fun at all.

As Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper found out, he often had chest pains, and was coughing up blood.

An X-Ray showed a new growth in his lung, and doctors were certain it was a cancerous one.

Fortunately, when they dissected Artyom’s chest, it was decided to cut out a small piece first, and to carry out an express biopsy test. The doctor made an incision in the lung and saw… a fir tree.

It grew squeezed in his lung. At first we couldn't figure out what it was, it looked like bit of bath sponge. Then we saw its thorns sticking out. We couldn't believe our eyes," said Vladimir Kamashev, deputy head doctor of the Udmurtian oncology hospital that was carrying out the operation.

The sprout appeared to be 5 cm long.

Doctors were stumped at how a seed could have entered the lung and then not only remain there, but also grow without being coughed up.

They suspect Artyom could have inhaled it while serving in the army, where he spent a lot of time training in the woods.

The seed could then have germinated in the humid and warm conditions of the lung.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t feel I was carrying some foreign object inside me – and moreover that it was growing. But it was very painful,” Artyom said.

The piece of lung containing the fir tree was put into a special solution, as it is a unique exemplar.

It has been almost three months since Artyom underwent surgery, and now his life is back to normal.

"I'm just happy it wasn't cancer, because we were sure it was,” Artyom said.

Doctors say the innocent looking twig could have killed Artyom. Had it pierced the lung it would have caused serious internal bleeding.