Hospital Evacuated After 88-Year-Old-Man Has WWI Shell Removed From Inside His Body

Collector’s item.

A French hospital was evacuated after an 88-year-old man came to the emergency room with a WWI-era explosive inserted where the sun wasn't shining. The man told hospital staff that the shell inside his rectum was a collector's item that had been deactivated, The Telegraph reported.

But staff at the Sainte Musse Hospital in Toulon called the bomb squad and cleared nearby areas of patients anyway. Read on to find out what happened after that and what the hospital staff, management, and the patient had to say about it all. 

1
Hospital Evacuation Ensues

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"An apple, a mango, or even shaving foam…we're used to finding unusual objects inserted where they shouldn't be," an unnamed ER staffer told local news outlet Nice-Matin. "But a shell? Never." The explosive-carrying patient caused a mild frenzy at the hospital when he showed up at the hospital's emergency department last Saturday around 9 pm.

A nearby pediatric unit was evacuated to the main hall, and incoming patients were diverted to other hospitals. The man himself was treated in a tent outside the hospital as an added precaution.

2
"Rarely Comes Out From Where It Comes In"

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The man told doctors he had found the shell at his brother's home. Not much more has been reported about what happened between then and the man's arrival at the hospital.

When bomb experts determined that the explosive was no threat—"They reassured us by telling us that it was a collector's item from the First World War, used by the French military," the hospital stated—doctors removed it surgically. "It rarely comes out from where it comes in," one of them told Nice-Matin.

3
What Surgery Entailed

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To extract the shell, which measured eight inches by two inches, doctors opened up the man's abdomen and removed it. The surgery went smoothly and the patient is "in good health," the hospital said. "An emergency occurred from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday evening that required the intervention of bomb disposal personnel, the evacuation of adult and pediatric emergencies as well as the diversion of incoming emergencies," a hospital spokesperson said.

"We had to manage the risk in a reactive framework. When in doubt, we took all the precautions." News of the procedure—and a photo of the removed shell—promptly went viral. 

4
Another Recent Removal

emergency room sign
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Not only is this not the only notable foreign-object removal to hit the news in recent months, it's not even the first to involve an antique artillery shell. In December 2021, the UK Sun reported that a man reported to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital with a 2-inch-wide round inside his rectum.

The man told doctors that the 57 mm round, which was part of his WWII memorabilia collection, got stuck in his anus after he "slipped and fell." It was removed without further incident.

5
And A Few More

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More recently, last month a 79-year-old Venezuelan man needed emergency surgery to remove a beer bottle from his rear. The man claimed the bottle was inserted by thieves who tried to rob him, local media reported. And in India, a man had a deodorant can surgically removed that had been in his backside for three weeks. "This was a big deal for us," a hospital official told India's News18. "We treated him with uttermost care."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more
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