Paul Baxter has made medical history, but his case is so embarrassing he probably wishes he hadn't.
The 47-year-old postal worker had been living with respiratory problems for over a year now. A lifelong smoker who recently had pneumonia, doctors assumed the worst when Baxter told them he was coughing up yellow mucus.
Along with the cough, Baxter had been feeling under the weather for almost a year. An x-ray revealed a shadowy mass in Baxter's lung, and he was told it was probably lung cancer. To get a better sense of his condition, doctors slid a camera down his throat in a procedure called a bronchoscopy.
That's when Baxter's routine case took a strange turn. "The doctor went in with the camera to start with, and he says "˜I can see something,'" Baxter told the BBC. Paul was scheduled to come back later to remove the mystery object from his airway.
But when the doctor pulled it out, everyone in the room started laughing...
So what did the cause of Baxter's trouble turn out to be? A Playmobil toy traffic cone, just less than a 1/2 inch long.
Reporting on the strange case in the British Medical Journal, doctors say that Baxter admitted to playing with and swallowing the toys when he was a young boy. In fact, he could remember the "long lost traffic cone" he received for his seventh birthday.
Doctors were still puzzled by why it took almost 40 years for the cone to cause any symptoms. They believe his airway actually remodeled around the toy since Baxter swallowed it at a young age. It was even absorbed into his lung lining.
Months after his surgery Baxter is feeling fine, and his doctors couldn't help but joke about his unique case. "On a positive note," they wrote, "his symptoms improved markedly and he finally found his long-lost Playmobil traffic cone in the very last place he would look."
Baxter's coworkers even got in on the fun by "photobombing" his TV interview.
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[H/T: Manchester Evening News]