When reality seems stranger than fiction, it’s often an opportunity to delve into the fascinating and, at times, bizarre aspects of human existence. In this exploration, we unveil the peculiar phenomenon of unexploded ordnance—massive explosive devices that defy their destructive nature by becoming lodged inside the human body. While it might sound like a Hollywood concoction, this remarkable occurrence is more real than you might imagine.

Picture this: a person struck by a massive explosive device, and yet, not only does it fail to detonate and claim their life, but it also becomes firmly embedded within their body. It sounds like a plot twist in a thriller, but this unusual scenario has played out in reality, albeit rarely.

Before we dive deeper into these extraordinary tales, it’s crucial to note that such cases are primarily limited to military personnel. The very nature of this phenomenon restricts its occurrence to those engaged in military activities. In fact, a 1999 study on 36 instances of this unique trauma officially categorized it as a “military injury.” At the time of the study, there were no known cases of civilians experiencing anything quite like it.

The Mysterious M79 Grenade Launcher

If we focus on the military, one weapon stands out as the primary culprit behind these unusual injuries—the M79 grenade launcher. According to the aforementioned study, this weapon was responsible for 18 out of the 36 injuries documented. Its capacity to lodge live explosives inside the human body makes it a distinctive and dangerous player in this unusual theater.

The Intriguing Case of Small Munitions

While the M79 grenade launcher takes the spotlight, it’s worth mentioning that even smaller munitions, such as certain types of armor-piercing and tracer rounds, can occasionally ricochet and embed themselves inside a person without detonating. In such cases, the surgical removal of the round becomes imperative. However, contrary to common belief and Hollywood portrayals, it’s generally safer to leave non-explosive objects inside the body than to attempt removal. Of course, if the object contains explosives, the situation is entirely different.

Surviving the Unthinkable

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of these incidents is the relatively low fatality rate. You might assume that having a live explosive lodged within your body would invariably lead to a swift and catastrophic end. However, among the 36 recorded cases spanning from World War II to the present day, only four resulted in fatalities, accounting for approximately eleven percent of cases. Notably, all four individuals passed away before any attempts at surgical removal.

Stories of Survival

Among the tales of survival, one that stands out is that of Pvt. Channing Moss, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade the size of a baseball bat. The grenade buried itself deep within his abdomen, with a portion protruding out, and yet, Pvt. Moss survived.

Another remarkable account is that of Jose Luna, a Colombian soldier accidentally hit in the face by a grenade launcher. After undergoing multiple surgeries to remove the weapon and repair the damage, Jose Luna not only survived but also managed to resume his normal activities.

One of the most astounding findings in this research is that whenever a patient with unexploded explosives inside their body reaches surgery, the surgical team has successfully removed the explosive without it detonating. According to the study mentioned earlier, covering the 36 known occurrences, there wasn’t a single instance in which the explosive exploded “during transportation, preparation, or removal.”

The Role of EOD Specialists

A critical factor contributing to this success rate is the presence of specialists in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). These experts provide guidance before and during surgical procedures, ensuring the utmost precautions are taken to prevent explosions. Keeping the patient as still as possible during surgery and restricting the use of electronic or heating devices are part of these precautions.

To safeguard the surgical team and others in the event of the worst-case scenario, explosive removal procedures typically occur away from populated areas. These locations are specifically designed to absorb the blast’s impact, should circumstances permit.

What should I do if I suspect I have a live explosive inside my body?

If you have any reason to suspect that you may have a live explosive inside your body, your safety is paramount. Do not attempt to handle or remove it yourself. Immediately seek professional medical assistance and inform them of your suspicions.

What precautions should medical professionals take during surgery for explosive removal?

Surgeons and medical teams must exercise extreme caution during explosive removal surgeries. Here are some precautions:

  • Conduct the surgery in a specially designated area, if available, that can absorb the impact of an explosion.
  • Minimize electronic devices and equipment in the operating room to reduce the risk of ignition.
  • Keep the patient as still as possible during the procedure to avoid unintentional detonation.
  • Work closely with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists if available, who can provide guidance and ensure safety.

Can I remove a small non-explosive foreign object from my body myself?

Generally, it’s not advisable to attempt self-removal of any foreign object, regardless of whether it’s explosive or not. Trying to remove an object yourself can lead to complications, infection, or further injury. Seek immediate medical attention for professional removal.

What are the risks associated with leaving a non-explosive object inside the body?

Leaving a non-explosive foreign object inside the body may have various risks, including infection, tissue damage, or complications over time. It’s best to consult with a medical professional who can assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment.

How common are cases of live explosives inside the body?

Cases of live explosives inside the body are exceptionally rare and often limited to military personnel. The chances of encountering such a situation outside of a combat or military context are extremely low.

Is there any way to prevent explosives from detonating during surgery?

Surgery to remove live explosives is performed with the utmost precautions to prevent detonation. However, there is always some inherent risk. To minimize this risk, surgical teams work in designated areas, minimize electronic devices, and follow strict safety protocols. Cooperation with EOD specialists further enhances safety.

What can I expect during recovery after explosive removal surgery?

Recovery after explosive removal surgery may vary depending on the specific case. Expect post-operative care, including wound management, pain management, and follow-up appointments. The medical team will provide guidance on post-surgery care and any necessary precautions.

Are there any long-term effects or complications after explosive removal surgery?

Long-term effects or complications after explosive removal surgery can vary based on the individual case. It’s essential to follow your medical team’s guidance for post-operative care and attend all follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and address any potential issues.

Can foreign objects, like bullets or shrapnel, be left inside the body?

In some cases, it may be safer to leave non-explosive foreign objects like bullets or shrapnel inside the body rather than attempting surgical removal. The decision depends on factors such as the object’s location and potential risks associated with removal.

What should I do if I encounter someone with a suspected explosive injury?

If you encounter someone with a suspected explosive injury, prioritize safety for both yourself and the injured person. Do not handle the injured area or attempt to remove any objects. Call emergency services immediately and provide them with all available information about the situation.

The world of unexploded ordnance within the human body is a testament to both the resilience of individuals and the expertise of medical and EOD professionals. It’s a realm where reality surpasses fiction, and where the improbable becomes possible. While these occurrences are exceptionally rare, they offer a captivating glimpse into the remarkable and often surreal facets of human existence.