Rose Marie Bentley spent most of her life in a small town in Oregon, where she and her husband owned and operated a local grocery store. A woman sang in a choir, taught in a Sunday school, and looked after a garden. And her life outside looked normal. But not inside.
Bentley had a very unusual secret that she and her family had not known for nearly a century. Recently, researchers at a meeting of the American Anatomical Association revealed it to the whole world.
Bentley donated her body to Oregon University of Health and Science, and medical students soon discovered that a 99-year-old woman had lived all her life, not knowing that she had a transposition of organs with left cardiovascular disease. This is a rare medical pathology when the stomach, liver and other organs of the abdominal cavity are mirrored (from right to left), but the heart remains on the left side of the chest. Literally, the internal organs of a woman (except for the heart) reflected the organs of a normal person.
Transposition of organs is not more common than in one out of ten thousand, and the case when the heart remains in the left side of the chest is one of 22 thousand cases of organ transposition or less than 0.0045% of the population. But that’s not all. Only one of the 50 million born with this pathology lives to adulthood, as it often leads to life-threatening problems (for example, congenital heart disease). However, some people, such as Bentley, can live a normal life if the symmetry of the bodies is all right. In the medical literature, there are only two other cases of survivors with organ transposition with left cardiovascular disease, who survived to 70 years (they were considered the most adult people with this pathology).
Bentley also had an abnormality, called esophageal hernia, when the upper part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm. In addition, her superior vena cava was unusually long. Instead of collecting deoxygenated blood from the head, neck, and upper limbs, the Bentley superior vena cava also collected deoxygenated blood from the chest wall and abdominal cavity.
Despite all these abnormalities, the Bentley family says that the woman had no other chronic diseases besides arthritis. She removed three organs, including the appendix, which, as noted by the surgeon, was located incorrectly.