She had a 5 percent to 13 percent chance of living past age 5, but she didn’t know that. Rose Marie Bentley lived longer than most, making it to age 99.
Why such low odds for the beginning of her life? Bentley was born with a condition called situs inversus with levocardia, an abnormality where her liver, stomach and other abdominal organs were on the right side of her body instead of the left.
Her heart, however, remained in the normal position, on the left side of her body.
Despite Bentley having three organs removed during her life, she and her family had no idea the Oregon woman had the condition. Only the doctor who removed Bentley’s appendix noted its unusual location in her body.
The discovery was made by medical students in a gross anatomy class at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Bentley donated her body to the school.
“When we looked at the organs of her abdominal cavity — which has the organs of the digestive tract — they were transposed entirely right to left,” Cameron Walker, an assistant professor of anatomy, told USA Today. “I’d never seen this before and the students were every bit as fascinated.”
Walker and his colleague Mark Hankin presented a scientific report on Bentley’s unusual anatomy at the American Association of Anatomists’ annual meeting this week in Orlando, Florida, OHSU said.
Warren Nielsen, who was one of many OHSU students who worked with Bentley, said: “It was quite amazing. We were able to not only learn normal anatomy but also all the anatomic variations that can occur. I grew to appreciate how she was able to live as long as she did. It made me wonder who she was. ...”
Who she was, was a mother of five who owned and operated a feed store with her husband. She also enjoyed working at her church and was a Camp Fire leader for about 15 years, according to her obituary.
“My mom would think this was so cool,” daughter Louise Allee told OHSU. “She would be tickled pink that she could teach something like this. She would probably get a big smile on her face, knowing that she was different, but made it through.”