A man in treatment for a cardiac arrest spat a massive blood clot in the perfect shape of his lung passage, and the image attracted equal amounts of astonishment and heartbreak online.
The image, which was published in a medical anomaly in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows the bright red clot 15 centimeters wide with identical branches to the patient's right lung bronchial tree.
According to the description of the image, the 36-year-old patient spit out the clot "during an extreme cough crisis." This provided temporary relief to the patient, but he died nine days later due to complications of heart failure.
"We were amazed," said Georg M. Wieselthaler, the pulmonary surgeon who operated on the patient, at The Atlantic. "It's a curiosity you can not imagine – I mean, this is very, very, very rare."
Wieselthaler had the patient's heart attached to a device designed to aid blood flow, but these devices may cause clotting, which could explain the size of the clot. He added that surgeons still do not know how they could have left without breaking.
Although extremely unusual, this is not entirely unknown. In 2005, the European Journal of Cardio Thoracic Surgery published a similar photo of a bronchial tree clot that a 25-year-old pregnant woman spat. This clot was much smaller, however.
The image has become viral since it was published last week, with people comparing it to an illuminated Christmas tree, a pile of licorice and coral. Others are asking for advice on how to avoid seeing the image.
I do not understand why you're so horrified by this blood clot. It seems like the kind of coral that people decorate their holiday homes … pic.twitter.com/aK0SD5md51
– Jamie Kenney (@LaComtesseJamie) December 7, 2018
I saw these trees at intervals and thought of that giant blood clot. This story ruined me. pic.twitter.com/hz7yAxfOwl
– Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) December 7, 2018
Oh God and if this blood clot ends up hosting the Oscars
– Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) December 7, 2018
[commercial for twitter]"I come to the depressing news updates!"
"I come to the hate speech!"
"I came to have a picture of a horrible blood clot tweeted in my timeline at random intervals!"
– Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 7, 2018
– Mama Snarky (@SarcasticBride) December 8, 2018
I spit this blood clot pic.twitter.com/UtSKQZSmrh
– Quinn Sutherland (@ReelQuinn) December 7, 2018
How do you block the photo of blood clot
– Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) December 8, 2018