Health

Coroners Reveal The Strangest Things Found During Autopsies

23. A Cadaver Lab With Lots Of Stories Swiftloser says, “I worked in a cadaver lab. People would donate their bodies to science, we would essentially “cut them… Trista - November 24, 2021
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23. A Cadaver Lab With Lots Of Stories

Swiftloser says, “I worked in a cadaver lab. People would donate their bodies to science, we would essentially “cut them up” into different cuts depending on what hospitals, med schools, or researchers wanted. Most of the tissue went for surgical practice. For example, a torso would be sent out for spinal surgery practice or a leg for knee replacement practice. Once, we had a donor who died during surgery. We found a very large pair of scissors inside of him. Also, we had lots of donors with evidence of cancer (like tumors all over their lungs) with no medical history of cancer.”

“We found a lot of abnormal or enlarged organs. We once removed a 50lb liver from a guy, and also, we found horseshoe kidneys (two kidneys fused together) in a person.” Why would someone insert scissors into their body? It’s extremely dangerous and could cause all sorts of problems. It’s a good thing that people donate their bodies to science. It helps coroners and other medical professionals to understand how our bodies work and to make advancements in the field of science. It may seem gruesome to cut a body apart, but that’s how students get their experience in the field.

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22. Pins and Needles

A deleted Reddit user worked in the industry in the 1990s and shares one experience. They go on to say, “Back in the ’90s, I worked for the company that was contracted to move bodies for the coroner. We picked up the body of a lady who had worked as a tailor in her youth. When they did the post mortem, there were several dressmaking pins and needles under her skin (mainly in her legs). There was also a pin lodged in her lung. The coroner thought she must have inhaled it. She’d suffered a pulmonary embolism back in the ’60s, which had forced her to retire.”

“Maybe the pin was the cause of it. How she hadn’t felt the pins or that none of them had been picked up on x-rays or scans she’d had in later life. I don’t know. Her cause of death was a stroke.” I’m curious how it was never discovered that the woman had those dressmaking pins in her legs and lung. I’m sure she had X-rays during her lifetime. How is it possible that no one ever noticed? She must not have had many feelings in her legs if she couldn’t feel them. That would be so painful to have pins in your legs. 

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21. Found In An Unexpected Place

Jjamesbaxter18 isn’t a Coroner or student but has an interesting story to share. He says, “I was once in a mental health facility for only a short amount of time, and I met a woman whose daughter passed away from a drug overdose. She had been upset at her for selling her grandmother’s necklace for what she thought was drugs, but when the autopsy came back, it was found in her stomach of all places. She was swallowing the same necklace for years. I can’t imagine why someone would do that.” This is confusing. What would cause someone to swallow a necklace?

Maybe she felt like someone would steal it, and the only safe place for the necklace was inside her body? She’s the only one who knows why she did it. Swallowing anything other than foods or drinks is extremely dangerous. You can get metal poisoning from swallowing jewelry or coins. Symptoms of metal poisoning include abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, abnormal heartbeat, numbness, and more. It’s not worth it, and you should seek immediate medical attention if you swallow something metallic. I hope this young woman is finally at peace from her battle against addiction. If you or someone you know is battling addiction, there are resources available to help.

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20. Everyone Loves Bacon

Earlier has a variety of stories to share from their time working in the morgue. They go on to say, “Wow, I’ve got a lot of stories for this one…We once had a homeless dude who OD’d on opiates (this comes in a LOT). During the external exam, we removed his pants, and they were just FULL of bacon. Like, at least 40 packs of bacon. It turns out he had shoplifted a ton of it, then shot up in some run-down house and died with it all in his pants. It was pretty shocking. We also had a guy who took a bullet to the back of his head, execution-style.”

“After the x-rays determined the bullet was not in his head anymore, we couldn’t find the exit wound anywhere. Once we took out the brain, we discovered it exited perfectly out of one of his nostrils, leaving no trace of an external exit wound.” Could you imagine seeing a deceased person with 40 packs of bacon shoved into their pants? That seems crazy! It sounds like this Reddit user could go on for days about the things they’ve seen while working in the morgue. It’s also difficult to believe that the second story ended with no clear exit wound. How could a bullet exit perfectly through a nostril, leaving no trace?

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19. Coroners Share Stories With Students

Reddit user allaboutmidwest shares an experience they had during school. Keep reading to find out what happened. They say, “My anatomy/ physiology teacher in high school worked in a coroner’s office before she became a teacher. She told us a story about a guy who was found dead in his car on the side of the road, but he hadn’t crashed or hit anything. The coroner assumed it was a stroke or a heart attack but didn’t find evidence of either. When they opened up his skull, though, his brain had turned to mush, and there was a single bullet sitting inside the skull.”

“They found one bullet hole on the left side of his head and concluded that a stray bullet had entered the car through the open window with enough velocity to enter his skull, but once inside had lost speed and bounced around inside his head, ripping up his brain, before eventually coming to a stop.” Wow, that’s crazy! That bullet had to be perfectly aligned to do that kind of damage. I hope the proper authorities were able to find the person responsible for killing this man. No one deserves to die that way. I hope it was some kind of accident instead of something more sinister.

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18. The Pathology Department

An unidentified Reddit shares their experience working with body parts. Keep reading to find out more! They say, “Ok, this isn’t an autopsy, but I work in a pathology lab, and we get all the parts that are removed from a human during surgery: tumors, moles, appendages, stones (kidney, bladder, gall bladder, etc.). One day a large, long, cylindrical stone was removed from a man’s genitalia. We have to break the stone down into its chemical components, so we can tell what it’s predominantly made from, i.e., calcium. So we put this stone in solution, and as it dissolved, we realized something was in the center.”

“It was a Bic pen cap! There’s no way it came from above…” Wow, that’s a strange story! How would a Bic pen cap even end up inside someone? This is one of the stranger stories I’ve read while working on this article. It’s never safe to insert a foreign object into your body, but people seem to think this kind of this is normal. It’s certainly not normal, so you should think twice before attempting to do something like this. Whether it’s for pleasure or a prank, it’s just not worth it. 

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17. Learning From Cadavers

Allbright1111 shared a story about a specific cadaver they worked on in medical school. They said, “One of the cadavers we learned from in med school had his sciatic nerve somehow passing through the middle of his piriformis muscle. It wasn’t fused to the side of the muscle via scarring. It ran right through the middle of the muscle. His medical history was unknown, but we expected that sciatic nerve pain was probably on the list. I think of him when a patient doesn’t respond to typical treatments for things. Sometimes people are built differently than everyone else. You have to think outside the box to figure out what’s going on.”

“Edit: Apparently, this isn’t all that uncommon a phenomenon, which we might have learned at the time. But I definitely do remember looking down at the nerve passing through the middle of the muscle and thinking, “what the heck is this?” That was not something I thought was possible before seeing it for myself. Shout out to everyone who has gifted their bodies to science!” 

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16. Smaller Than The Average Brain

User5711 says, “An 88-year-old grandma died of carbon monoxide poisoning. During the autopsy, we couldn’t open the back of the cranium. After much drilling, we realized that her cranium was around 3-4 cm thick all the way around, leaving her with the smallest brain on a grown woman I’ve ever seen. She was fully functioning and never seemed affected by it in the slightest. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Sorry I haven’t managed to reply to all questions. I never expected anyone to find my autopsy stories interesting! I knew she functioned well until her death because she ran a soft cheese-making business with her daughters.”

“She died when the gas tank used to heat the milk leaked carbon monoxide into the room, and she passed out and died. One of her daughters also passed out, but her face was close to the space under the door, and fresh air came in, enough to prevent her from dying. I asked the family if she or they had known of her condition, and no one had any idea. Physically there was nothing remarkable. No deformities at all visible externally, neither in body nor face. We included the information in the autopsy report, but since it wasn’t related to the cause of death, it wasn’t investigated further. Just for clarification, I’m a female with a background in forensics and profiling. Hope this helps!”

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15. A Terrifying Find Even For The Most Experienced Coroners

A Reddit user with the screen name thetrickbrain shares a story directly from a pathologist. You won’t believe what the pathologist told this Reddit user. Thetrickbrain says, “I spoke with a pathologist at a conference, during her training at the medical examiner’s office, they were doing an autopsy on a body that was found by a river. They did a CT, and something looked funny about his gut. When they opened him up, his stomach moved. It was a snake that had burrowed inside his body. It struck and bit one of the techs before they realized what was going on.”

Could you imagine working in a coroner’s office and finding a snake in a body! How terrifying! What makes it worse is that the snake bit someone. I hope it wasn’t a venomous snake. That would make the entire situation scarier. As someone who isn’t afraid of snakes, something like this happening would make me change my mind. I hope the person who was bitten is okay. I’m sure they were scared of having something like that happen to them. The pathologist in the story will never forget something like that, and I’m sure they will be more cautious when working with the deceased.

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14. Museum Of Oddities

Reddit user foxy_stoat_seeks_pig shares a strange experience while taking classes for forensic medicine at the Museum of Oddities in their school. They say, “My forensic medicine lectures took place in the department’s “museum of oddities.” There are plenty of interesting items on display, but one particularly strange display caught my eye. It was an unlabeled cardboard box with 20ish thin metal bars 10 cm (around 4 inches) long. One of the pathologists explained that the random pieces of metal were actually spooned handles that were found in a young woman’s stomach. The remaining portion of the spoons was melted away by stomach acid.

“The woman was a patient in a psychiatric hospital in the 50s/60s and evidently had a tendency to swallow spoons, but her unusual diet had nothing to do with her cause of death (can’t exactly remember what it was). On a more humorous note, the museum also features a variety of strange tattoos. My favorite was a tattoo on the left upper thigh of a soldier which read: “Nur für Damen, “i.e., “Ladies only.” You hear about people with strange obsessions like eating dryer lint or soap, but I’ve never heard of someone trying to eat spoons. It’s dangerous, and I wish this woman was about to get the help she deserved.

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13. Genetic Diseases

A deleted Reddit user shares their medical school experience. They say, “In medical school, our path professor was the director of an autopsy. He shared one of his cases (with pics) during our cardiology unit that really stuck with me. The 20-something-year-old woman said she was feeling sleepy and laid down on the couch. 5 min later, she was stone dead. When the pathologist cracked the chest, he found something nobody expected. Her heart was over 60% fat. I don’t mean fat surrounding her heart. I mean, the literal muscle cells of her heart had been replaced with fat cells. Apparently, she had a very extreme version of genetic cardiomyopathy called ARVC.”

“So much fat had replaced her cardiomyocytes (heart cells) that her heart simply lost contractile capability and just stopped beating. The pictures he shared were horrifying. It’s like if you took a heart, cut half of it out, and perfectly sculpted the half you cut out of greasy, yellow fat – all the blood vessels were still running through the fatty half of the heart perfectly. It was wild. Edit: People are asking about weight as a possible contributing factor. Here’s a comment I made in response to whether or not she was overweight -Not at all, as a matter of fact. I remember there was nothing of note in her past medical history. Nobody ever knew she had this condition prior to her death. Perfectly healthy until she… wasn’t. It’s sad, but unfortunately, she just drew the short straw in the genetic lottery.”

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12. A Missing Organ?

Jguidry74 says, “My brother-in-law was in his early 60s and passed away from a heart attack. During his autopsy, it was noted he only had one kidney. He never had a kidney removed, and the only surgery he ever had was to have his appendix removed. The mortician said that it was, in fact, removed and not just a birth defect. The appendix surgery happened when he was very young.” So, did someone take his kidney during his appendix surgery and just not say anything? That’s frightening! Even though you can live with just one kidney, it’s scary to think that someone could just take it from you during surgery to remove something else.

I can’t think of any other explanation that makes sense for something like this. Why would someone remove your kidney when you go in for an appendix removal? Did the doctor make a mistake? Or, perhaps the brother-in-law sold it on his own to pay off some debt? I guess we’ll never know for sure. This is one of those stories that make you wish there was a full explanation of what happened. You read about organs being sold on the black market all the time but never really think about how it happens. I’m sure this family would love some answers from the deceased.

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11. A Necropsy With A Surprising Twist

A Reddit user with the handle hashtagfoxfacts has some interesting stories to shares about animals. Have you ever heard of a Necropsy? Keep reading to find out what it is. Hastagfoxfacts says, “I used to do necropsies, which is an autopsy on an animal. The weirdest thing was when I’d probably done 50 necropsies at that point on the same kind of rodent, and one day I open one up, and its intestines are just bulging full of something. Just imagine that you’re used to seeing essentially the same thing every time. Now, instead of thin little intestines, you’ve got these balloon-like overfull ones.”

“They were just taking up the whole body cavity. My partner and I freaked out and just put the whole intestinal tract in a specimen jar for the lab to check out. It turned out to be a massive tapeworm that was actually fairly common for that critter. We had just never run into one in our sample before. Not as crazy as a lot of the stories here, but when you open a body, any kind of surprise really throws you!” 

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10. Well, These Are All Strange Reporting From Coroners

Reddit user PrincessStudbull has a variety of shocking stories to share with us. Keep reading to find out what they have to say. Princess Studball goes on to talk about a few stories during their time in the morgue. They say, “We once found Ben was balls in the rectum of a male who died of huffing duster. A Female with a tattoo that covered her back said, “f*** you, you freaking f****.” We also had an elderly female with five very old tampons in her vaginal canal. There was the time we had a few big, burly, leather-clad bikers with delicate, lacy panties.”

“Then there was the elderly male with a Prince Albert piercing (we had to remove all jewelry, and that was…awkward). Accessory spleens were super common, but one lady had 14 of them but no actual spleen—just 14 little blueberry-sized accessory spleens. Horseshoe kidney is always a cool find. Human anatomy has its “within normal limits” range, but within that range, there are some weird things. Ohhh….surprise, empyema was gag-worthy. EDIT: I no longer work this job. I miss it. You guys have made the last few hours at my current job more fun. I hope at least one of you has an accessory spleen!”

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9. A Frightening Series Of Photos

LOLSteelBullet says, “I Don’t perform autopsies, but I clerked for a public defender’s office my senior year of college and was tasked with organizing the discovery of a murder case, including the autopsy photos. The guy was tortured and then killed with a pickax to the head on the side of a road. The next day they stole acetone from a hardware store and drenched the body, which doesn’t work as well as the movies do. However, it does a phenomenal job at melting internal organs, particularly a brain whose skull has several puncture wounds. The brain soup is why you don’t sneak a lunch while organizing discovery in a homicide case.”

How terrible! No one deserves to have their body desecrated in this manner. This Reddit user must have to block out a lot of what they see when they go home for the day. I can’t imagine seeing all of those terrifying images and being able to get them out of my mind once I saw them. I’m thankful for the people with the stomach to do these sorts of jobs to keep the rest of us safe from harm. It must be scary to witness so much death. And it has to take a toll on you. This type of experience makes you wonder how these people do this job every day without breaking down.

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8. This Made No Sense To These Coroners

BOSS_OF_THE_INTERNET grew up with a friend whose father was a coroner, so he’s sure to have some interesting stories. Let’s see what he has to say. “I’m not a Medical Examiner, but growing up, my best friend’s dad was the county coroner/Medical Examiner. An old shut-in died from natural causes, and his body was found a few weeks after he passed. During the autopsy, the coroner found what appeared to be a thin copper wire running the length of the decedent’s arms, legs, and torso. It was embedded under the skin, with a single point or “outlet” emerging at the base of the neck.

“The man had no family, so no one had a clue how the wires got there or why.” Well, this is scary. Why would a deceased person have wires running through their body? Was foul play involved? I have so many questions, as it doesn’t make any sense how something like this could happen. I wish the coroner himself was able to give us a better insight into what happened during this case. It’s very strange. I hope the deceased gentleman is finally at peace, no matter what happened to his body that caused this strange phenomenon. 

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7. They Found That Where?!

Reddit user mattemer shares a terrifying story heard from friends. You won’t believe what these friends in two different parts of the country found in bodies. “This is going to sound made up, but I know two people in two different locations (one East coast, one MT time), one was in school, and another is an assistant at a morgue, that described finding this to me. They found what seemed to be wiring in two different bodies! My buddy at the morgue said they found a kind of wiring that sounds very similar to this, maybe close to 9 years ago?

“He said they had zero clues about what it was for and how it ended up in the body. My other friend, who was a student maybe five years back, also found this copper wiring through a body, coming out at the neck. It freaked me out when I heard the second story. The first one was “eh, that’s weird,” but then to hear it again, from a place so far away? My student friend either didn’t know or forgot where the body was from. I think they get to make notes about the cause of death and the general demographics of the person. I’m reading of another possible case right now? Wow. Goosebumps.”

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6. Helping Local Coroners Creates The Strangest Stories

Literarymorass says, “I Helped with autopsies at our local coroner’s office during medical school in addition to cadaver dissection in the anatomy lab. A few interesting finds/situations: A prosthetic testicle in a young man in his 20s. The pathologist hadn’t seen one before. It was about the consistency of a softer bouncy ball but oblong—no idea where the original went. I saw photos of a young guy who had died at home, and his pet fox then ate part of his face. I also observed a dig for a body found buried and then helped piece the skull pieces together back at the lab.”

“We found bullet holes in the skull! I guess that was the cause of death but still an exciting discovery. Most of the dead show up clothed. The clothes are damp and cool from being in the body bag and refrigerator and sometimes really tough to remove. I had a young man who had died in a job site accident and struggled to remove his work boots, thick damp jeans, etc. Anyhow, he had an M+Ms wrapper in his pocket. It really made the whole situation real to realize he was just a normal guy, snacking on candy and doing his job when his life abruptly ended.”

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5. Is Anyone Missing Underpants?

A Reddit user who goes by the name of Pathlady shared her experience. She said, “Oh, man. Okay, one time, we had an autopsy on a guy who had died abroad whilst on holiday. He’d already had an autopsy in his country of death. He needed another autopsy in his home country before his death could be registered, so that was our job. He had been embalmed and repatriated to us. Obviously, by the time we received his body, his brain had already been removed and dissected, and the skull sutured closed. My colleague reopened the skull as we weren’t sure of autopsy procedures in the country of death.”

The skull cavity was stuffed with underpants. Edit: The weirdest bit, which I should have mentioned in my original post, was that the body arrived with a bag of the guy’s belongings – including his own underpants.” Wow, what a strange story. What is the purpose of stuffing the skull full of underpants? It doesn’t make any sense. That isn’t the way to honor the deceased. If they were attempting to pack the skull for travel, stuffing it with underpants was a poor decision. 

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4. A Horrifying Find For These Coroners

Briley13 says, “I worked in an animal hospital as an assistant for a couple of years after high school. At one point, we had a fawn-colored boxer brought in with several long tears in the skin of her back. The owners suspected a wild cat had gotten into the dog’s outdoor run and flayed her. The wounds didn’t match that theory, but we offered treatment anyway. The owner couldn’t afford to treat and opted for euthanasia. After the deed was done, I was bagging up the body for the freezer, and when I lifted it, the fur on the animal’s back started falling off in clumps, revealing skin that was jet black and fragile.

“With the final hoist into the bag, the skin of the entire back sloughed off in a sheet, revealing a dense coating of maggots between the skin and the body wall. I called a vet over, and her theory was that this dog had been left outside in her run for an extended period with no shade and had become so extremely sunburnt that the skin of her back had gone completely necrotic. A colony of maggots took over the fatty layer beneath the skin. There was nothing we could have done for her, so euthanasia was the right choice, but those owners are completely responsible for the dog’s death. In working there, I encountered many horrifying things, enraging and sad, but this really capped it for me.”

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3. Everything Was Orange!

Reddit user haileyann29 shares her unforgettable experience. You don’t want to miss this one. She goes on to say, “One time, there was a body that had orange organs. Literally, everything was orange. The blood had a weird orange hue, and the skin was also somewhat orange. The person drank carrot juice every day, with every meal for 30 years. They only consumed carrot juice for the last five years. However, they died of old age. Another time, one individual attempted to commit suicide four times with a 21 revolver. Apparently, they missed the heart three times, and finally, the fourth bullet pierced the heart”.

“According to the report, they suffered for a long time. However, they were still able to disassemble the gun and lay it out perfectly on the bedside table. So, I guess you could say that we found three bullets that didn’t actually kill this individual.” It would be strange to see orange organs, blood, and skin on a human body, but I guess that’s what happens when you drink that much carrot juice. It’s very sad that the person in the second story felt the need to commit suicide and was left in immense pain before they passed. If you or anyone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

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2. A Missing Wedding Ring

BushBabyTheRaccoon shares a frightening experience from their time as an EMT. They say, “I was an EMT back in the day, and we were responding to a car wreck where a new sports car had gone off-road and flipped several times. We had a newbie with us, and this was his first trauma call, and to say the least, he was a little excited. We told him when we got to the scene. He was to hold the c-spine for us while we worked the patient. The driver of the wrecked car was in bad shape. He was ejected from the vehicle, and judging by his crushed skull, was minutes from passing.”

“Nevertheless, our little rookie ran over to the patient and grabbed what was left of the guy’s head and held the c-spine. On calls like this, because of their rural location, the first responding police officer will often call a medical helicopter to respond also, as was the case here. Within minutes the man had passed, and we told dispatch to call off the helicopter and request a coroner response. Fast forward to the next day. The ME office calls the station to ask, “who is missing a wedding ring”! They had found a gold band inside the man’s head. It turns out our little rookie was so excited he neglected to glove up before the call and lost his wedding ring in the guy’s head. We called him “Turbo” from that day forward.”

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1. Studying Cadavers

Reddit user deanoldcd says, “As a medical student, I undergo a cadaveric study to understand anatomy better. Last year my subject was an old lady, who sometime before death, must have swallowed a nail… a METAL nail. This thing had gone through her trachea and was wedged in her aorta about an inch. However, it was determined that this had not been the cause of her death as the tissue surrounding the nail had healed, and it looked like it had been healed for some time. I thought she was lucky not to have had it kill her but just shows what the human body is capable of.”

Wow, that’s insane! Swallowing any type of metal is dangerous, but when it wedges itself into a part of the heart, that’s when things get really scary. I can’t believe it wasn’t a contributing factor in her death. With metal poisoning being so dangerous, it makes you wonder how long the nail was embedded in her aorta. That’s so scary! How do you even swallow a nail in the first place? Was it some kind of freak accident, or did she do it on purpose? I have so many questions! The only person with the answers needed is no longer with us, so I guess we’ll never know.

 

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