Fact Check

Did Doctors Discover a Live Cockroach in a Patient's Chest in Zimbabwe?

A chest X-ray purportedly showing a cockroach is actually a doctored version of Marilyn Monroe's.

Published Apr 19, 2017

An x-ray image shows a live cockroach in a patient's chest in Zimbabwe.

An image purportedly showing a cockroach in a chest x-ray was shared by the Facebook page "Let's Enjoy Zimbabwe" on 10 April 2017 along with the claim that the gruesome discovery was made at the Rusape General hospital in Zimbabwe:

A patient in Zimbabwe had serious chest pains, after taking x-ray at Rusape General hospital the image showed that he had a live cockroach in his chest moving about. Doctors recommended that he goes abroad preferably India.So patient had to sale his house and a few contributions from relatives. When he got to India another x-ray was taken and was told there was no cockroach in his chest but the cockroach was in the x-ray machine they used in Zimbabwe.

Both this image and story are fake.

Variations of this story have been circulating for several years. In 2012, for instance, the "University Of Jokes" Facebook page shared a joke with a nearly identical premise, only the patient was from Ghana and not Zimbabwe:

A man went to a Ghanaian hospital for Check up. The x-ray showed he had a cockroach in his chest region and he was told by the doctor dat he wud need surgery to remove it.
After putting much tót to it,he went abroad for a second opinion:He had anoda x-ray check,and was told that the cockroach was in the Ghanaian hospital's x-ray machine, not in his chest!..

Although it's unclear when this image first accompanied the health care joke, the original chest x-ray did not feature a cockroach. This x-ray was taken in 1954 and showed Marilyn Monroe's chest after she was admitted to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for surgery for endometriosis. A set of three x-ray images from this hospital visit were sold at auction in 2010 for $45,000:


The Telegraph.   "Marilyn Monroe's chest x-ray offered at auction."     12 April 2010.

The Telegraph.   "Marilyn Monroe chest X-rays sell for $45,000."     28 June 2010.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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