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She Made It to Age 99—With Her Organs in the Wrong Place

Condition wasn't discovered until Rose Marie Bentley's body was donated to science
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2019 4:45 PM CDT
Updated Apr 10, 2019 1:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Oregon woman had three organs removed over the course of her life. But before her death at age 99, only one doctor had noted anything unusual about her insides. That changed in a big way when Rose Marie Bentley's body arrived at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Bentley, who the BBC reports died in 2017, had donated her body to science, and a gross anatomy class initially realized something was atypical when they struggled to find a major blood vessel. USA Today reports it was only later in the 2018 spring semester the class realized a number of her organs were transposed. Bentley had a rare condition called situs inversus with levocardia.

Per a press release from the university, it occurs in just one in every 22,000 births and is generally associated with an earlier mortality. There are records of just two people living into their 70s with the condition, and assistant professor of anatomy Cameron Walker believes Bentley may have lived longer than anyone else with the condition. While her heart was in the correct place, her liver, stomach, and other abdominal organs were on her left as well. Her appendix, which was one of the organs she'd had removed, wasn't where it typically should be, something the surgeon noted at the time. "My mom would think this was so cool," says one of her five children. "She would be tickled pink that she could teach something like this. She would probably get a big smile on her face, knowing that she was different, but made it through." (Read more discoveries stories.)

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