In Extremely Rare Occurrence, Man Coughs Up Lung

The 36-year-old expectorated a perfect model of his right bronchial tree made out of blood.

Man sick in hospital bed
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The 36-year-old expectorated a perfect model of his right bronchial tree made out of blood.

We’ve all heard the phrase “coughing up a lung,” but have you ever considered what would happen if you actually did exactly that? Although scientists say the proper verbiage should be “coughed out” instead of “coughed up,” there have been a few rare instances of lungs slipping out of their regular place within the body.

In a startling new twist, the world of medical science now also has a case involving a perfectly formed model of a patient’s right bronchial trees being coughed up and made entirely out of blood. This occurrence was so unusual that the man’s doctors contacted the New England Journal of Medicine, and their report was published in the journal’s November 29, 2018, online edition.

Per IFLScience, the intact bronchial cast has 10 branches, and they were made from coagulated blood that had formed around the man’s right lung. The patient had a long history of heart problems, including a congenital defect, aortic stenosis, and a massive reduction of blood being pumped into his body. He’d also suffered from severe heart failure and a complete heart block in the past.

The unlucky heart patient was admitted to the ICU with heart and breathing distress. After another surgical intervention, his respiratory woes increased. Soon, he was almost fully reliant upon medically administered oxygen to stay alive. Even this wasn’t enough to prevent a further health decline, though, and the blood vessels near his lungs started leaking fluid. This clogged the air sacs that are required to oxygenate blood and caused him to deal with extreme bouts of coughing.

It was during one of these coughing fits that the pulmonary sculpture made of blood separated from the right lung and actually exited his mouth in its fully-formed shape.

This isn’t the first time the New England Journal of Medicine has reported an unusual situation involving a coughing patient’s lungs. In 2012, doctors documented a lung herniation that resulted after a woman coughed extremely hard. According to NBC News and Dr. Rachel Vreeman, that patient “didn’t technically cough up her lung, she coughed out her lung through her ribs.”

Dr. Vreeman also stated that whooping cough patients have been known to suffer from lung collapses, and it’s possible to rupture your spleen or even pop your eyeballs out of their sockets from intense coughing or vomiting.

Sadly, the man who made history with his bronchial tree blood cast never recovered from his latest hospitalization. Within one week of coughing up a lung cast, he passed away from heart issues.