Feather emerges from baby's neck

"No one knew what was bothering 7-month-old Mya Whittington. Her discomfort stumped her parents and doctors. She was finally hospitalized - and a 2-inch feather eventually poked its way out of her neck, shocking everyone." [ABC]


  1. “As it turns out, Emily Dickinson was wrong.  The thing with feathers is my nephew.   I must take him to a specialist in Zurich.”    — Woody Allen 

  2. This was from December — now we know that she swallowed it, and it pierced her flesh, eventually coming out the other side. Those things can be pretty sharp!

  3. I don’t see why this is such a newsworthy case. I thought there were plenty of kids out there with Down Syndrome.

    1. Do I go to atheist hell if I laugh, or am I sill allowed to quietly rot in the ground like everyone else?

    2. Down syndrome? Don’t be silly. It’s clearly a case of bird flu. Or possibly chicken pox.

  4. Best pullquote ever: 

    “But her best guess is that she either inhaled it or tried swallowing it and it got lodged in the throat somewhere, and the body, just being crazy, just started to reject it and force it out the side of her neck.”

    1. I’ve heard tell of metal objects being expelled driectly through the skin. Usually war vets who have bullets work their way out after decades.
      I’ve also seen the graphite tip of a pencil work it’s way to the surface after a number of years.

      I didn’t think something like a feather would last long enought. I would have guessed that macrophages and other immune system cells would just eat it after a while.

      1. Feathers are fingernail-like. Fingernails seem to last a long time in close proximity to the internal immune system stuff on your fingertips. So I’m not surprised that the feather came out intact.

        1. Good point.  I didn’t think of that.  I sort of just focused on durability and the fact that most biological stuff can be digested by our bodies (or rather are either well tolerated, degraded, or horrifically rejected).

          1. biological stuff can be digested by our bodies

            I take it that you’ve never had a pet snake. There’s a plug of undigested hair on the end of the poo.

          2.  Keratin proteins, which are what feathers are made of, are among the toughest when it comes to digestion – they have lots of tightly wound and crosslinked structures, and I highly doubt humans can produce the enzymes required to degrade them. On the other hand, a standard lab procedure if you want to hydrolyze a bunch of proteins back to their component amino acids is putting them in 6 molar hydrochloric acid, 110°C for 24 hours. Human stomach is a much milder version of that (60 times lower concentration of HCl, 3 times lower temperature, several times shorter time period), but I imagine it might still take care of it partially.

  5. here’s the thing I find most interesting about this story.    It highlights the massive change in my brain.   8 years ago, before the birth of my son,  I would have read this story, and thought something like:  “oh, interesting” or “wow, how did that happen”   or “ouch that must have hurt”        But now,  after almost 7 years of my wee roommate Saul,   I think “poor baby,  i wish there would be some way to take the pain away from her,  I hope she is feeling better”       WHAT HAPPENS to our brains after we reproduce?        (don’t answer, I kinda know, i was just pointing this out)

    1. Yeah I felt the same way. We had our own experience with stuff being ingested. When my son was 18 months he walked up to me looking a little bit unwell. He coughed and something tinkled behind his teeth. He spat out a long stemmed drawing pin, and by the look on his face, he felt a lot better.

  6. in a similar vein, a friend of mine got a porcupine quill in the shoulder and it emerged weeks later from his elbow. this is why porcupine quills are so dangerous to dogs: the barbs keep them moving from the mouth into deeper tissue, where they (if properly positioned) can end up in the brain. 

    1. Foxtails are designed in a similar fashion to porcupine quills, and they behave in a similar way once they penetrate the skin (which they do with alarming speed). 

      Depending on where you live, foxtails are likely to be more of a threat to your dog. And they’re quite prolific this year, at least in Northern California. The lack of rain made them sprout, bloom and dry into vicious little vectors of evil in record time this season.

  7. they thought she might be getting an ear infection or teething

    Wow, they had my mother in law around to visit.

  8. I had something like this happen. A thin wire emerged from my foot. But the thing is I didn’t step on it (at least any time I remembered) and it emerged slowly from *inside* my foot, coiling up beneath the thicker skin until I noticed the black spot. There wasn’t any pain but it started to drive me crazy thinking there was something inside my foot. Eventually I cut the skin open to poke at it with a needle (yes, I’m that kind of person and I didn’t have insurance). Eventually, the tip of a wire emerged. When I pulled it out it was about an inch or two long, coiled up under the skin. It caused me no pain coming out either… but it was so weird. I really really wish that had been in the days of camera phones so I could have recorded it. To this day I really don’t know how or why it was there.

      1. Probably more likely I swallowed something. This was definitely not a parasite. It was a normal wire (like the kind you would get if you unraveled electronic cord to get a single strand). Also, my spouse was there when I pulled it out. He thought maybe I stepped on it at some point and somehow it coiled up inside the skin then healed over. 

        Either way it was weird.

  9. I think Cory’s going to file a copyright infringement suit here.  Either that or *someone* will have to leave town //rim shot

  10. The official story is a coverup, she’s clearly just a relative of Warren Worthington III.

  11. Same thing happened to my husband thirty-odd years ago; still has the scar on his cheek to prove it. Figures he inhaled a pillow feather while sleeping and it took a few months to work through his sinus and cheek. Too bad there was no internet back then to go viral…

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