A WOMAN lived to the age of 99 with all her organs in the wrong place – but never knew.
Rose Marie Bentley, from Molalla, Oregon, had chosen to donate her body to research when she died, as her husband, James, had done years before her.
OHSU/Bentley family Rose Bentley lived to 99 without knowing she was living with a rare anatomical condition that left some of her organs on the wrong side of her body
But when that time came in 2017 and students cut her open as part of a routine anatomy class, they were left baffled.
The elderly woman’s liver, stomach and abdominal organs were transposed right to left, but her heart remained on the left side of her chest.
She’d apparently been living with the very rare anatomical condition, known as situs inversus with levocardia, without ever knowing.
The condition occurs about once every 22,000 births and is often associated with life-threatening cardiac problems and other abnormalities.
She also had an abnormality called a hiatal hernia, which is when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm – a thin muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest.Oldest-known case
Assistant professor of anatomy, Dr Cam Walker helped students at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) unravel the mystery of Rose’s case.
He said: “I knew something was up, but it took us a while to figure out how she was put together.”
Mr Walker estimated that only one in 50 million people who are born with the specific condition Rose had live long enough to be come adults.
It means she may have been the oldest-known person with situs inversus.
Warren Nielsen, a second-year medical student, said he and his classmates were left bewildered.
He told CNN: “Her heart was missing a large vein that’s normally on the right side.”
The 26-year-old called over the professors and asked: “Where’s the inferior vena cava? Are we missing it? Are we crazy? And they kind of rolled their eyes.
“Like, ‘how can these students miss this big vessel?’ And they come over and that’s when the hubbub starts. They’re like ‘Oh, my God, this is totally backwards!'”
OHSU/Lynn Kitagawa This is what the students found when the opened up Rose’s body – her stomach, liver and other abdominal organs were on the opposite side
Getty Images This is what a normal human anatomy should look like, with the key organs on the right
What was wrong with Rose?The normal human body has a large vein called the vena cava that follows the right side of the vertebral column, curving under the liver and emptying deoxygenated blood into the heart.
But Rose’s was on the left, and instead of terminating directly into her heart as typical, her vein continued through her diaphragm, along the thoracic vertebrae, over the aortic arch and into the right side of her heart.
The students at the university in Portland also discovered she had numerous veins and parts of her chest cavity were either missing or sprouting from an unusual spot.
Her right lung had two lobes instead of three, with the right atrium of her heart was twice the average size.
They also found her stomach, liver, and spleen, which are typically on the right, were on the left.
And the rest of her digestive tract, including her ascending colon, were inverted too.
Mr Nielsen added: “I grew to appreciate how she was able to live as long as she did. It made me wonder who she was.
“The experience has me looking forward to caring for patients and being able to apply what I’ve learned from her.”
Her family said that she had lived without any chronic conditions, aside from arthritis and heartburn.
She had three organs removed during her life, but only a surgeon who removed her appendix recorded its unusual location in their notes.
My mum would think this was cool. She would be tickled pink that she could teach something like thisLouiseRose’s daughter
None of her five children were aware of their mother’s transposed organs, and they believe she didn’t know either.
Her daughter Louise Allee, of Canby, Oregon, said her mum would be loving all the attention she is receiving following her death from natural causes on October 11, 2017.
She said: “My mum would think this was cool. 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.”
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Rose and her husband James owned and operated the Bentley Feed Store in Molalla selling farm and pet supplies, which has been taken over by their grandson Brian.
The couple travelled to all 50 states and several countries when they retired in 1980.
They decided to donate to the OHSU Body Donation Program after reading a moving poem about remembering loved ones after they die.
OHSU/Lynn Kitagawa Rose Marie Bentley’s superior vena cava (SVC) vein, which normally collects deoxygenated blood from the head, neck and upper limbs, was unusually long
OHSU/Bentley family) Rose Bentley, seen here as a young woman, in an undated picture
OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff Cam Walker, and his colleague Mark Hankin, were teaching the class at the university in Portland, Oregon, when the discovery was made
OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff Medical student Warren Nielsen, 26, who was shocked to find Rose’s organs were not where he was expecting
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