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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Chinese woman's 'needle ordeal'
X-ray photo of Luo Cuifen, from Richland International Hospital
The needles were revealed by hospital X-rays
Doctors in China have discovered 26 sewing needles embedded in the body of a 31-year-old woman.

They think they were inserted into Luo Cuifen's body when she was a baby by grandparents upset she was not a boy.

Some of these needles have penetrated vital organs, such as the lungs, liver and kidneys. One has even broken into three pieces in the woman's brain.

The needles were discovered only when Ms Luo went to hospital complaining of blood in her urine.

She was given a routine X-ray, which revealed the needles. Up until then she had been in good health.

Operations needed

A team of 23 doctors, including five from the United States and Canada, are debating how best to remove the needles at the Richland International Hospital in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province.

Xu Mei, the chief doctor at the hospital, told the BBC that removing the needles would be a long, complicated procedure requiring several operations.

The first of those is expected to take place next week when seven needles will be removed.

The hospital is doing the first operation, which will cost 170,000 yuan ($22,500, 11,200), for free.

But Ms Luo, from rural Songming County in Yunnan Province, will have to raise money to fund the other operations.

Doctors believe the needles were inserted into the woman when she was just a few days old by her grandparents, who they believe were disappointed that she was not a boy.

But there is no way to confirm this theory, as the grandparents are now dead.

In many rural areas boys were - and still are - valued more highly than girls. One reason is that they can carry on the family name.

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