At 25 years of age Marie Heffernan began to cough up a coin, which she later discovered had been lodged in her throat for more than a decade, preventing her from speaking.
Her troubles began when the New South Wales girl was just 13 and suddenly lost her voice.
Doctors had no idea what caused the teen to become mute, and put it down to laryngitis.
But her condition never improved and Marie spent her teenage years mute, with her strange condition leaving her socially ostracised.
“I was at St Anne's Catholic school in Dapto - that's since closed - and I remember one of the priests saying it was the 'work of the devil' and that stuck,” she told the Illawarra Mercury in a recent interview.
“I ended up leaving school at 14 as I was just too traumatised.”
She dropped out of school and took a job as a typist, but in 1984 the unthinkable happened.
She was 25 at the time, working at the Social Security department in Queanbeyan one Monday morning when she began to choke.
Marie coughed up blood and a black lump - which turned out to be a decades-old coin. It was a 1959 threepence, which had been long out of circulation.
A specialist discovered the coin had been lodged between her vocal chords for 12 years, preventing them from vibrating, according to the Mercury.
With the coin dislodged, Marie was able to start putting words together within a few weeks.
Now residing in Wollongong, the now Marie McCreadie has written a book about her experience, entitled Voiceless.
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