Sanju Bhagat gained notoriety in Nagpur for his strikingly swollen abdomen, resembling that of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy. Commonly referred to as the “pregnant man,” Bhagat’s condition was linked to a rare medical phenomenon known as “fetus in fetu” or “vanishing twin syndrome,” as reported by the Daily Star. This infrequent occurrence arises when one twin perishes during gestation and is subsequently absorbed by the surviving twin. It is an exceptionally uncommon condition, estimated to transpire in only one out of every 500,000 live births, resulting in the birth of one twin nested within the other.
Throughout his childhood, Bhagat exhibited a seemingly ordinary and robust physique, aside from his conspicuous protuberant belly. However, upon reaching his twenties, his abdomen began to expand uncontrollably. Despite disregarding the mounting growth, Bhagat continued with his life until an eventful day in 1999 when the bulge exerted pressure on his diaphragm, impeding his breathing. Alarmed by this development, he was swiftly transported to a hospital in Mumbai for immediate medical attention.
Described by the doctor, as quoted by History Defined, the sequence of events unfolded in a chilling manner. “First, one limb came out, then another limb came out. Then, parts of the genitalia, hair, limbs, jaws, and hair. We were horrified. We were bewildered and amazed… To my surprise and horror, I could shake hands with someone inside. It was quite shocking for me.”
At first glance, it might appear as though Bhagat had given birth. However, it was actually the mutated body of Bhagat’s twin brother which was extracted Dr. Mehta from his abdomen. Bhagat, it was discovered, had been afflicted with one of the most extraordinary medical conditions known as “fetus in fetu.”
After the operation, Bhagat expressed immense relief. He had no desire to learn the specifics of the procedure performed by Dr. Mehta or to witness the contents extracted from his stomach.
Fetus in fetu is an incredibly rare occurrence
“Fetus in fetu” is an incredibly rare occurrence, as Mehta explained, with fewer than 90 cases documented in medical literature. It transpires early on in a twin pregnancy when one fetus wraps around and envelops the other. The dominant fetus continues to develop while the other fetus, essentially acting as a parasite, survives throughout the pregnancy, relying on its host twin for sustenance. Typically, both twins succumb to the strain of sharing a placenta before birth.
However, in Bhagat’s exceptional case, the host twin survived and was delivered. What distinguishes his situation is that no one suspected the presence of a twin within Bhagat for 36 years, rendering it a truly extraordinary circumstance.