A 48-year-old Chinese woman who suffered regular bouts of painful headaches for much of her life got a nasty shock when she discovered through her doctors that she had a two-inch needle lodged in her brain. The needle had been there for at least 46 years.
The woman, Liu, from Anhui in China, had complained about headaches for four decades. Although she had often told members of her family that the pain felt "like being pricked with a needle," she told her doctors that she suspected the pain was linked to a heart condition.
However, tests over the years by her doctors gave no clue about what was causing the headaches. But after the pain became unbearable and she began experiencing numbness on one side of her body, she was admitted to hospital.
Her doctor ordered a CT scan and found to his astonishment that Liu had a two-inch needle sticking through her skull into the left hemisphere of her brain.
According to Liu's daughter, Xiaozhang, everyone was shocked to learn that her mother's four-decades-old headache was caused by a needle in her brain. She said her mother had no idea how the needle got there.
But doctors said the needle had entered her brain before she was 18 months.
"Mother has no recollection of the needle being inserted in her head, but doctors said it must have happened before she was 18 months old, when her skull was still soft and flexible as a child."
Infants younger than 18 months have a soft spot in their skull and a needle could easily pierce it, doctors said.
Some Daily Mail readers thought the needle entered her skull accidentally. But others made the shocking claim that someone pushed the needle through her skull as part of the centuries-old practice of female infanticide in China.
Female infanticide, caused by cultural attitudes that valued boys above girls, was exacerbated by the strictly enforced one-child policy imposed by the communist government in the 1980s.
A Daily Mail reader commented, "This is the result of China's infamous one child policy."
"It's an attempt to kill the child. Pins are pushed into the head through the soft spot on the baby's skull before it is fully formed. So sad."
"I heard this was an old discreet way of killing baby girls in China! Pushing needles into the soft skulls of baby's! I hope she is unaware of this old technique..."
According to a 2007 report by the Los Angeles Times, the practice of female infanticide by pushing pins through the body of infants to pierce vital organs is well-documented in China.
The news site reported the case of Luo Cuifen, a 26-year-old Chinese woman, in whose body doctors discovered two dozen sewing needles, some of which pierced vital organs.
X-rays of her head also showed several needles piercing her skull.
Doctors said the needles in her skull were evidence that they were driven into her body when she was an infant and her skull was still soft.
According to Qu Rei, a surgeon at the Richland International Hospital in Yunnan province, the needles were driven into her body by an older member of her family who was disappointed that she was a girl and not a boy.
"They wanted her dead. The fact she is still alive is a medical miracle."
Luo, who expressed shock and horror at the revelation, could not remember ever being stabbed.
"I was horrified. How could they do such a thing to me when I was so young?"
But some relatives claimed that it was likely her grandparents who stuck the pins into her body.
[Image via Shutterstock]