Twenty-four years ago, as a child, Ratna Ahire had swallowed a 10 paisa coin. She got rid of it just the other day.
The doctors at Parel's KEM Hospital were stumped when Ahire, 29, turned up two months ago. There wasn't much that seemed wrong with her, yet she complained of being unable to eat.
An x-ray found nothing. Then Ahire remembered the coin-swallowing episode.
"In a bid to hide the 10 paisa from my siblings, I had kept the coin in my mouth and accidentally swallowed it. When I told my mother, she fed me bananas, assuming it would come out with the stools," said Ahire.
There was no further complaint and Ahire forgot about the incident.
"Nine years ago, after my wedding, I experienced some difficulty in swallowing food, but I ignored it. But the problem suddenly became acute two months ago. I could not eat anything and my husband insisted that I go to a hospital," said Ahire.
"Usually we have children coming in with coins stuck in food pipes. But such a case, where it has been stuck for so many years, is a first," said Dr Aparna Deshpande, professor of surgery, KEM Hospital.
It took a multi-disciplinary approach and a team of 20 doctors from surgery, gastroenterology, ENT and anasthesia to unstuck Ahire.
The coin had corroded badly and tissue had grown around it, which had led to the difficulty in swallowing.
Two endoscopic procedures had to be performed - one of them extremely tricky.
Doctors said Ahire had been extremely lucky to have escaped a rupture in her food pipe. She had been lucky too, that it was a government hospital.
Else, that 10 paisa would have burned a mega-hole in her pocket, instead of the meagre Rs. 2,500 she spent on a CT scan.