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Creepy X-ray of cockroach in Zimbabwean patient’s chest? No, original X-ray was of Marilyn Monroe’s chest

“A patient in Zimbabwe had an X-ray taken on his chest. Doctors noted a live cockroach and recommended him to India for surgery. He sold everything and went to India, where another X-ray was taken. It showed he was fine. The cockroach was in the X-ray machine used in Zimbabwe.”

The image has been widely shared on Facebook. This version makes a snide joke of both people in Zimbabwe – “he sold everything” – and the country’s health system: the cockroach was in the X-ray machine, and the doctor had no clue.

In January 2019 Zimbabwean doctors ended a near six-week strike for better working conditions.

The cockroach is unnaturally large and inexpertly photoshopped onto the X-ray. Snopes checked a slightly different version of the claim and confirmed the image and caption are fake, and have been circulating online since at least 2012.



But Snopes’s fact-check reveals another unfortunate side of the story.

The original X-ray is of the chest of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was an American “sex symbol” of the 1950s, an actor once married to playwright Arthur Miller. She died of suspected suicide in 1962, at the age of 36.

The chest X-ray was taken in 1954, when Monroe was 28 and admitted to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for surgery. The X-ray doesn’t only show her ribs and spine: it also shows the outline of her breasts. Snopes reports: “A set of three X-ray images from this hospital visit were sold at auction in 2010.” The price was US$45,000 – about R600,000.

A reverse image search confirms the origin of the X-ray, showing that the undoctored version was first posted on the internet in 2010. 


 

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