Medicine: Eggshell Heart

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The boy was 18, but he looked like a child of nine. He weighed only 75 Ibs.; he was only 4 ft. 6 in. tall. His ankles and abdomen were bloated. His heart beat so faintly that it could scarcely be detected. At Detroit's Art Center (osteopathic) Hospital, Surgeon Albert Collum Johnson guessed that the boy's heart was in some kind of strait jacket. His guess was right.

He operated, found a calcium shell an eighth of an inch thick enclosing the heart sac. This heart shell had to be cracked apart with forceps. Apparently the result of internal bleeding caused by an old baseball blow under the heart (calcium deposits are often found in scar tissue), the casing had prevented the heart muscle from growing, had restricted blood circulation. By starving body tissues, it had stopped the boy's growth.

Last week the boy, Ernest Marsh, left the hospital. Now he would start growing again, but Dr. Johnson doubted that he could ever "recapture all his lost years."