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A Woman Has Been Pregnant With A Calcified Fetus For Over 60 Years

But the 91-year-old is not having it removed.

Posted on August 7, 2015, at 3:19 p.m. ET

This is 91-year-old Estela Meléndez, of La Boca, Chile. For many years she had a lump in her belly, but thought nothing of it.

After a recent fall, Meléndez, who has arthritis, decided to get some X-rays done. When doctors initially found a mass, they thought it was something serious.

"The doctor said I had a tumor and that they needed to operate on me," she told CNN.

After ordering another X-ray, the doctors discovered that the mass wasn't a tumor, but a fetus. The doctors also determined that Meléndez has had the fetus in her uterus for over six decades.


This is probably due to a phenomenon known as lithopedion, in which a fetus dies during pregnancy and calcifies because it's too large to be absorbed by the body. Once calcified, the fetus poses no immediate risk to the mother.

This discovery comes just months after Meléndez's husband of 74 years, Manuel González, died in January. Meléndez told CNN that not having children was one of the couple's greatest regrets.

Local doctors said that since the fetus is calcified it poses no risk to Meléndez, and that it would be more dangerous to operate given her age, so the fetus will stay inside her.

She said the mass does ache at times, but that the reminder of a broken dream, not ever having a child, is what hurts more. "We suffered tremendously because of this reason," she said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.