Ron Sveden expected to hear the worst last June after rushing to the emergency room with a chronic cough, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Indeed, the 75-year-old was a lifelong smoker and therefore suspected his symptoms were related to lung cancer. However, Ron got the surprise of his life when doctors gave him his true diagnosis: he had a pea plant growing in one of his lungs.
Ron’s saga began on Memorial Day last year, when his Ron’s wife called 911 because he was so sick. Subsequently, Ron spent ten days in the hospital while doctors took X-rays, and did other tests to check for lung cancer. The X-rays did indicate that his left lung had collapsed—but not for the reason that doctors had initially suspected. However, it wasn’t until doctors did a biopsy that they discovered a pea seed had split in Ron’s lung and sprouted.
However, New York City pulmonologist, Dr. Len Horowitz, said such things aren’t completely out of the ordinary:
“That can definitely happen. This did not surprise me. You can inhale a seed of a plant or sprouting plant and it can cause bronchial obstruction. I’ve pulled food out of people’s lungs before.”
Dr. Horowitz also added that the common signs that a patient has inhaled a piece of food include shortness of breath, incessant coughing, and even collapsed lungs—all of the symptoms that Ron experienced.
Ron and his doctors believe that while eating peas, one went into his windpipe, lodged into his lungs and began sprouting. Thankfully, Ron’s doctors did remove the one-and-a-half inch long pea plant growing in one of his lungs. He is currently still recovering at home, fielding pea-related gag gifts from friends and family members, and is feeling much better. According to Ron, he was actually amused by the diagnosis and was simply grateful not to have cancer.