The lithopedion was discovered when the unnamed refugee arrived in the United States and visited a hospital complaining of stomach cramps, indigestion, and reporting a gurgling sensation after eating.
Scans taken soon later revealed a dead 28-week-old foetus in her lower abdomen pressing on her bowel.
When asked about surgery, the woman refused and said she did “not have it in my heart to do”. Doctors writing in the Journal of Medical Case Reports said the patient believed the condition was related to a “spell” cast on her in Tanzania.
Nine years earlier, when the woman first realised she had lost the child, she was accused by medical personnel at a refugee camp of killing her baby.
The incident reportedly left the woman scared of doctors and from that point on refused all medical treatment.
Reports suggest she told the US medical team she would “let [them] know when [she was] read – I am not scared of death”.
Just over a year later, the woman died from malnutrition after the foetus blocked her intestines, preventing her from absorbing essential nutrients.
Doctors working on the case said it highlighted the “unfavourable impact” of “medical distrust”.
They added there was a need for a better care model to “bridge the gap between the healthcare team and newly resettled refugees”.
They also encouraged medical personnel to increase their knowledge of the rare medical condition.
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