For the longest time, Sanju Bhagat from the town of Nagpur, in Maharashtra, western India, lived with being called “pregnant man”, a reference to the massive belly that made him resemble a heavily pregnant woman. At the age of 36, when he had trouble breathing because of the bulge, he went to a hospital, where the doctors suspected a very large tumour and operated on him. What came out during the surgery stunned everyone — Sanju delivered a baby!
This jaw-dropping development came in 1999, but the details have become known only now, when Sanju is aged about 60.
A baby coming out of a man’s body — albeit a dead baby — is the result of an extremely rare medical condition, ‘fetus in fetu’. Also known as the ‘vanishing twin syndrome’, this is a condition when one twin dies in the womb and gets reabsorbed in the body of the other twin.
Sanju could never have suspected this; he carried the dead vanished twin inside himself for more than three decades, suffering extreme discomfort even as he tried to make a living. But the breathing problem took him from Nagpur to Mumbai, where he consulted a doctor named Dr Ajay Mehta.
During the surgery, as the doctor made an incision in Sanju’s belly and reached inside to take out the suspected tumour, he felt something completely different — the doctor’s hand felt bones. Robotic cameras were still not widely used at the time, so the doctors could not see what was inside.
The discovery of the vanished twin during the surgery, as the doctor told a news publication, began slowly: “First, one limb came out, then another limb came out. Then some parts of the genitalia, some parts of the hair, some limbs, jaws, limbs, and hair. We were horrified. We were confused and amazed… To my surprise and horror, I could shake hands with someone inside. It was a bit shocking for me.” Happily for the ‘pregnant’ man, his ordeal since birth was finally over.