Sometimes the most extraordinary events occur in the humblest of circumstances. Born in 1933, Lina Medina was brought up in the Peruvian village of Ticrapo. The town, perched at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet above sea level, was one of Peru’s poorest neighborhoods.
Little is known of Lina’s very early years, but it’s easy to imagine that life in such a rural and impoverished area would have been basic. Apparently, she had eight siblings, and they were all raised by their mother, Victoria Losea, and father, Tiburelo Medina, who was a silversmith.
Day-to-day life for the South American family would have probably been pretty uneventful. However, when Lina was five, something happened that would change her life – and her family’s – forever. Not only that, but it would shock the entire world.
Concern for Lina started when the little girl began developing a bloated abdomen. Moreover, the swelling didn’t go down; on the contrary, it seemed to get bigger and bigger. Naturally very worried, Lina’s mother and father suspected that their daughter could be suffering from a tumor. But before heading to the hospital, they sought help from a curious source.
The family reportedly asked local shamans to see if they could cure Lina of her problem, and the shamans apparently believed that her strange growth could be down to her being possessed. So Lina’s father, Tiburelo, granted permission for them to exorcise his daughter in a bid to remove “the snake under her belly.”
Whether or not this “exorcism” actually took place is unknown. If it did, it clearly didn’t work – but what happened next is known to have occurred. With Lina’s ever-growing bump still present, it was time to see some professionals.
According to a 1939 article in TIME magazine, one of the shamans was with the Medina family when they finally took the girl to hospital in Pisco, Peru. And apparently, the female shaman begged a Dr. Geraldo Lozada, one of the hospital’s surgeons, to “exorcise” the “possessed” girl himself.
Clearly, though, a medical professional like Dr. Lozada was not going to do such a thing. Instead, he did what any regular doctor would do and gave the girl an examination. Yet what he discovered would surely have come as a complete shock.
Why? Because Lina was, in fact, in the final stages of pregnancy. Indeed, she appeared to be around seven months gone, so Dr. Lozada moved her to specialists in a Lima hospital to confirm the diagnosis. Here, the news was corroborated: Lina, a five-year-old girl, was pregnant.
But how was this even possible? It sounds unbelievable to us today that a child of such a young age could get pregnant and carry a baby. By way of explanation, as it later turned out, Lina was found to be living with a condition called “precocious puberty.”
Basically, this meant that she’d started puberty at a very young age. While most girls begin their sexual development at around ten years old, Lina’s condition meant that at around the age of three, she was already menstruating. Of course, this meant her body was now producing ovums and was technically prepared for pregnancy. And there was more.
By the age of four, Lina had also developed a fully-formed chest. Plus, it was later confirmed that her bones were mature and that her pelvis was somewhat wider than normal for a girl of her age. The latter circumstance was actually discovered while Lina was in the process of giving birth.
That said, because her pelvis was still small, relatively speaking, a caesarean was needed during labor. Despite this development, however, on May 14, 1939, little Lina managed to give birth to a healthy baby boy. Weighing in at six pounds, the infant was given the name Gerardo, in honor of the doctor who had diagnosed the pregnancy.
And with the girl aged just five years, seven months and 21 days, this made Lina the youngest known human ever to have given birth. Notwithstanding this fact, just as the Medina family were coming to terms with the idea, another twist followed.
Obviously, Lina must have had non-consensual sexual intercourse to become pregnant. But who had raped her? Well, fingers were pointed at the girl’s father, Tiburelo, and he was imprisoned, suspected of incest.
Evidence was lacking, however, and Tiburelo was later released. But what happened to the family after that? As it turned out, baby Gerardo was to spend most of his childhood believing that Lina was actually his sister. It wasn’t until he hit ten that he learned the truth.
As for Lina herself, her relationship with Dr. Lozada grew stronger, and she ended up working for him in Lima as his secretary. Furthermore, he reportedly gave Lina an education and financed young Gerardo’s schooling, too. Years later, however, there was an unhappy development in Gerardo and Lina’s story.
Sadly, in 1979, at the age of 40, Gerardo passed away following an illness. Whether his mother ever revealed to her son who his father actually was, we’ll never know. One thing’s for sure, though: Lina has never publicly said who got her pregnant or what exactly happened.
Indeed, it’s possible that Lina doesn’t even know or can’t remember what occurred. And while some always suspected Lina’s father of having raped her – despite his later release from prison – others have proposed that she could have been violated after a traditional Andean party.
Today, Lina, 83, lives in a rundown part of Lima with her husband, Raúl Jurado. She had a second son with Jurado. Yet while her second-born’s older brother, Gerardo, may have died, the interest in his story lives on. Nevertheless, Lina refuses to discuss her history – despite having received multiple press requests. And we’re fairly sure that the truth behind her being the world’s youngest mother is something she’ll take to her grave.