For more than a year, he had a nagging cough. Finally, the 47-year-old from the UK went to a clinic—and got the surprise of his life.
The BBC reports that X-rays showed a spot on the man’s lung, but it wasn’t a tumor. It was a “long lost” toy traffic cone that had disappeared many decades earlier.
Part of a Playmobil set he got for his seventh birthday, the cone (less than a half-inch in length) had been inhaled by the youngster, then lodged in his lung, per the Guardian.
The mailman “reported that he regularly played with and even swallowed pieces of Playmobil during his childhood,” doctors wrote in BMJ Case Reports.
While it’s not uncommon for children to ingest small toys, doctors say it’s the first time they’ve heard of one going undetected for so long. They speculate that because the man inhaled the cone so young, his airway “was able to remodel and adapt to the presence of this foreign body.”
It was eventually absorbed into the lung lining, where it remained undetected until last year, when the man, a long-term smoker, began coughing and spitting up yellow mucus.
Doctors extracted the cone with biopsy forceps, and since then, the patient has had few problems.
“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.”