6+ Real Stories Behind The Surgeries Of 'Grey's Anatomy'

The surgeons at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital have seen just about everything you can think of, and if you're anything like me, there is a pretty good chance that you've wondered how the writers of Grey's Anatomy come up with the bizarre medical stories from episode to episode for the last 16 seasons.

Here are the real stories behind some of the most remarkable surgeries from the show, according to the executive producer of the show, Zoanne Clack, via Entertainment Weekly.

1. The man who swallowed 10 doll heads in season 2.

YouTube | Jess Rita

"We really wanted something that would stand out on X-ray," the show's executive producer, Zoanne Clack, said. "We were just researching all different kinds of ingestions that people did".

"And wanted it to be something that wouldn’t kill them right away. A lot of people will swallow paperclips and knives — which we did later with a prisoner," she went on.

"So that’s what we came up with because it would be such a funny-looking X-ray."

2. The man and woman who were impaled by a beam after a train accident in season 2.

YouTube | Alfnan Channel

This is one episode that still haunts me to this day!

"That was absolutely fabricated," Zoanne revealed. "We usually have one big impalement a season, and this was obviously one of the first and the biggest. We had to figure out the trajectory of the pole, how they would still be talking, how we would move them, etc."

"We had two of our married writers be our models to make it less awkward," she added.


"They sat together and I could see where the pole could go and what organs it would go through and how it could affect them but still have them talking. There was a lot of modeling that went along with that. It was fun to figure out."

3. The girl who couldn't feel any pain in season 3.

YouTube | Pillowthought

“That was definitely from an article,” Zoanne admitted. "We heard about the case and the writer immediately latched onto it, and we were just trying to figure out how far we could go with this girl, thinking of all the different possibilities of how she would get injured. Making her this fearless person definitely helped with what was going on in the episode, story-arc-wise.”

4. The conjoined twins who were in love with the same woman in season 3.


“This one was very, very complex, and it was very much about having to do that big of a surgery for love,” she explained.

“It was also all about us wanting to use a bunch of surgeons all at once. We wanted it to be complex and we wanted it to inform on the love triangle [Derek-Mark-Addison]".

5. The man with a fish in his genitals in season 3.


“We couldn’t make that up!," Zoanne exclaimed.

“It happens; the fish will follow the stream of urine into the penis. This was a case we read about in season 1 or 2 and literally tried to put it in three or four episodes. It would always fall out because it wasn’t grounded enough, or we had too many stories and we had to let go of one. We finally accomplished it!"

"It was one of those Grey’s Anatomy lore kind of cases that we kept on the board, kept in the room and we’d be like, ‘What about penis fish for this story?!’"

"It was in so many episodes before the one it ended up in, it was hilarious.”

6. The man who had limbs that resembled tree branches in season 7.


“Like penis fish, tree hands was in the ether for a long time, and [executive producer] Mark Wilding was the one that pulled it off,” Zoanne said. “It was based on a real case. A little boy actually had this disease and went to go and get it treated in India or somewhere, and then they grew back again."

"There was a lot of video and footage about this boy to use, and we talked to a bunch of experts about it."

YouTube | Jolene Kim

"It was really interesting because I really didn’t even understand how warts turn into that."

"We also had to figure out how this could happen in America, because the little boy that it had happened to was in this little remote village on some island [and] so didn’t have access to care," she said.

YouTube | Jolene Kim

"So we had to base our premise on the character’s reclusive backstory, and then we were able to pull it up and use it."

7. The boy who was stuck in cement in season 4.


"That came from the mind of [series creator] Shonda Rhimes," Zoanne revealed. "That was one that actually took a long time to research because it doesn’t really happen. We were trying to figure out the effect of cement on the body from smaller cases, where it’s happened on arms or legs or whatever. The main point of that was to get all of our characters together.

8. The one with the pregnant man in season 2.

Entertainment Weekly

"I was really excited about that one," Zoanne said. "One of the big learning curves I had to make on early seasons was trying to open up my mind and not say no to writers' suggestions all the time."

"This one was one of the ones where my initial thought was, ‘Are you kidding me? We can’t do this!’ But then I realized that a teratoma puts out the hormones that you make during pregnancy."

"Then we thought to have him do a pregnancy test with his wife who is actually pregnant, and if it’s positive he can truly believe that he’s pregnant."

"That was a major coup, a major feather in my hat to figure out how to actually make it work medically.”


Let us know what your favorite patient story was from Grey's Anatomy in the comments below!