A mother was horrified when doctors told her an enormous mass in her ovary was her unborn “twin”, which had been growing inside her for more than forty years.
Medics insisted on an ultrasound of 45-year-old Jenny Kavanagh’s ovaries due to her age when she went to have a contraceptive coil implanted.
But she was shocked when they spotted a 10cm mass growing in her left ovary and warned it could rupture and kill her.
Surgeons discovered it was her undeveloped, unborn twin that had grown inside her from birth – complete with face, an eye, tooth, and long black hair like Ms Kavanagh’s.
Logistics officer Ms Kavanagh, from Twickenham, south London, said: “I feel very lucky that they found it and removed it before it killed me.
‘It’s difficult to describe how I felt when I saw it. I felt shocked, very scared, horrified and it felt like an alien was inside me…’
“I try not to think of it too much because I don’t want to feel sad about it. If I’m honest, I did feel sad when I first saw it, because of the size and weight of it, it had already been likened to a baby.
“But I try not to feel sad about it. I try to remember that it had no heart and no brain. And that it would have almost certainly killed me if they hadn’t found it and removed it.
Ms Kavanagh grew up in London, but moved to Cyprus in 2005 with her then-husband, to escape the “rat race”.
The mother of two admitted she has always avoided doctors and has never visited a gynaecologist, but had no problems with either of her pregnancies.
But when she started to have heavy periods she worried it might be due to a coil she had fitted 15 years ago and went to get a new one in May.
The consultant scanned her abdomen and, while her right ovary was totally normal, the one on the left side had a 10cm dark mass.
Her doctor assured her it was unlikely to be a cancerous tumour – and probably a teratoma or cyst – but Ms Kavanagh was worried.
“I thought the worst,” she said. “He advised me it would have to come out regardless. If it twisted or ruptured it could kill me.”
After tests proved inconclusive, 11 days later Ms Kavanagh went under the knife for a three-hour operation to remove the mass at The Mediterranean Hospital of Cyprus.
Doctors agreed to take a photo of the mass on her phone and showed her it when she came around, explaining it was a mass of cells that had been inside her since birth.
When she looked at the picture she was shocked to see long strands of dark hair, just like hers.
“The whole thing was so surreal I think I needed to see them to get my head around it all,” she said. “It is possible that there were twin embryos and one enveloped the other.
“The fact that it had long black hair – just like mine – a face, with one eye and one baby tooth makes it more believable. It’s difficult to describe how I felt when I saw it. I felt shocked, very scared, horrified and it felt like an alien was inside me.
“The doctor said it was like an ectopic pregnancy, but that the ovary protected it. He said there would have been two embryos and that I was the stronger embryo and enclosed the weaker one.
“It was a stem cell that didn’t stop growing, and the ovary protected it and stopped it from rupturing. But the bigger it grew, the bigger the chance of a haemorrhage”
Ms Kavanagh, who has now made a fully recovery, added: “When I showed the picture to my mum she was really sad – she saw it as her unborn child, and my unborn twin.”