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90-Year-Old Woman Still Had Shrapnel In Her Leg From War

In 1945, a Chinese couple attempted to escape their homeland during the Chinese Civil War. They were attacked and the woman was hit, but she was able to move on and reach a safer place. Her leg got bandaged up and she went on with her life. In a recent surgery, doctors finally removed the shrapnel from her leg.

Hu Jinhua was four months pregnant when the Sino-Japanese broke out, the second wave in the Chinese Civil War. The couple, who lived in eastern China at the time, decided to make a run for it and escape to the southwest city of Kunming, where Hu had relatives.

Unfortunately, as they attempted to flee their city, there was an air attack from a Japanese aircraft and Hu was hit. Though injured, she was still mobile. She and her husband knew they couldn't afford any medical care, so they decided to continue on their journey. She says she 'dragged her bleeding thigh and moved on'.

Guerrilla fighters met up with the couple the day after Hu was injured and had a look at her leg. They couldn't remove the shrapnel, but they were able to bandage up her leg so that she could go forward.

Hu and her husband reached their destination and went on with their lives. As the woman aged, though, the shrapnel left in her leg began to become a problem. The elderly woman's leg had started to swell. Eventually, she began experiencing acute pain.

This October, at the age of 90, Mrs. Hu finally got her leg taken care of by medical professionals. She was brought to a local hospital and underwent surgery to have the shrapnel removed from her leg. Doctors pulled out a 1-cm long piece of shrapnel from the 1945 bombing.

Doctors used a plastic mold for a synthetic bone substitute and used it to repair the rest of the damage in the woman's leg. She's finally recovering and can put the ordeal behind her.

Mrs. Hu isn't the only old-timer who was living with shrapnel in her from back in the war. One U.K. man, at the age of 87, found that the shrapnel in his jaw surfaced all on his own.

The man woke up and felt something strange and hard in his mouth, and he spat out a metal shard. The shard came from an injury he sustained in World War II at the age of 19. He met up with an exploding land mine in Italy and the blast embedded shrapnel in his face, shoulder and leg.

Doctors removed all the shrapnel at the time, but one piece lodged in his jaw and doctors missed it. For years he had pain, difficulty speaking and would bleed from the mouth, but doctors attributed it to dental problems like mouth ulcers. Then the piece of metal presented itself, having migrated to the surface.

Many people can live with shrapnel and never have problems. Movement of muscles and tissue can cause them to shift, though, so when they're near nerves or vital organs, they can cause pain, serious damage or infection. Sometimes, though, the surgery to remove deeply embedded shrapnel can be more dangerous than leaving it, so doctors have to weigh the risks.

Source: BBC
Photo: Guangming Daily

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