OKAY, THE news out of Russia, albeit several days old, is that a 28-year-old Izhesvsk resident named Artyom Sidorkin checked into a hospital last week coughing blood, so doctors performed a biopsy and found, "to their amazement," a lush, green, 5-centimeter-long sprig of fir embedded in his lung.
They were amazed because, according to the original press reports in Komsomolskaya Pravda and MosNews.com, an object that size (about 2 inches long) "is too large to be inhaled or swallowed," the doctors said.
So they surmise that at some point the patient inhaled a small spruce bud "which then started to grow inside his body."
Second opinion: 'I think it is nonsense'
Notwithstanding the credulous reception given the story by the international media, skeptics are crying foul. "Seeds and plants do not grow in humans, the medium is not right for it," South African pulmonary specialist Chris Bolliger was quoted as saying on Health24.com. "I'm very skeptical."
Another specialist, cardio-thorax surgeon Tony Linegar, concurred. "The growth of plant material in humans has never been recorded in academic literature. Until someone comes up with concrete evidence, I think it is nonsense."
What the medical literature does show, interestingly enough, is that it's not unprecedented for bits of plant matter up to 5 cm. in length to find their way into human lungs. One published study, for example, describes a "sheaf of grass" of exactly that size being extracted from the lung of a nine-month-old child.
Be that as it may, Dr. Bolliger, like the Russian surgeons who claim they found the "fir tree" in the first place, doesn't believe such a foreign object that large could have been inhaled without lodging in the patient's airway or being coughed out.
If he's correct, that leaves us with only one other explanation, best summed up as follows: Tree in Lung 'a Hoax.'
Video: Tree Grows Inside Man's Lung