Rhodochrosite and Quartz –
Cavnic, Maramures Co., Romania
Konrad Witz (1400 – 1447) – Pieta. Detail.
The Windbag – The Man Who Stopped Pooping
This colon exhibited in the Mütter Museum belonged to a 29-year-old man who had complained of constipation for most of his life. The condition he endured is known as congenital aganglionic megacolon, or Hirschsprung’s disease. It occurs when nerve cells in part of the colon fail to develop and make it difficult for waste to move to the rectum (aganglionic means “without nerve cells”).
The subject was a normal infant up to the age of 18 months, with the exception of a rather large abdomen, coupled with irregularity of bowels and some constipation. His condition progressed, with the severity of the constipation increasing along with the size of his abdomen. By the age of 16 he would go up to a month at a time without any bowel movements. At 20 he was exhibited at a dime museum as the “Wind Bag” or “Balloon Man.”
During this man’s lifetime, doctors knew that his ailment was not a tumor but rather a defective colon. Surgery to identify and fix the cause would have been extremely risky. He ultimately died of the condition, and was found dead in a bathroom where he was attempting to pass waste.