It happened to 75-year-old Ron Sveden, who had a half-inch-long sprout removed from his lung, which was first detected on August 8.
Sveden was very sick when he was hospitalized on Memorial Day – he was having more difficulty breathing than he usually does with his emphysema.
Sveden thought he has a lung cancer. Instead, he just had a pea seed in his lung that had split and had sprouted.
Dr. Jeff Spillane removed the obstruction. He tells CNN at first he couldn’t see that a pea had been lodged in the lung because there was so much infected, swollen tissue around it. “His whole lobe was collapsed and there was pus behind…it was entrapped in what we call granulation tissue.” But once removed, he says it looked like a pea or a bean. “It had a shoot coming out.”
Spillane, a thoracic surgeon at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts, doesn’t know how long the seed was in Sveden’s lung, but he believes it stayed in the airway because Sveden’s existing lung disease didn’t allow him to breathe very well and he couldn’t cough it out.
“Most of the time I’m dealing with a pretty devastating illness,” Spillane says. But this case is different. “He really did get a very good outcome.”
Spillane says children, in particular, are known to have peanuts go down the wrong way and get lodged in the lung, which is a very serious problem. “Kids have died from that stuff,” he says.