Julia Popova and her unbelievable photo

Julia Popova and her unbelievable photo
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An extraordinary picture that has gone around the world of a knife plunged into the back of a woman mugging victim is genuine, it was revealed by doctors in Moscow tonight.

Julia Popova, 22, was stabbed by a mugger as she walked home from work one day last autumn - but she was so traumatised by the attack that she walked home without realising the knife was embedded in her, just a fraction of an inch from her spinal cord.

In the image, blood is shown gushing from the wound as surgeons stare in awe, apparently preparing to operate to remove the six-inch blade. This is our photo, she was here,' a senior doctor at the hospital in the north of the Russian capital told the MailOnline last night. 

Other medics also confirmed the case. They declined to be named as they were not directly involved in the patient's treatment.The low quality of the image, which was published in British newspapers today, led to speculation it was faked - especially since it first appeared in a brash Moscow tabloid newspaper and on a website widely believed by locals to run stories of doubtful authenticity.

The senior surgeon at the hospital would not confirm Julia's name to protect her privacy. But he said: 'The case was last autumn. She spent about 40 minutes walking home after she was attacked.' Despite the length of the blade, he said, it missed her spinal cord and major arteries in her neck.

'The knife was stuck in her bone,' he said. 'It's an absolutely unique and extraordinary case. She was so lucky. The only thing damaged was the bone.'

Julia only realised something was wrong when she arrived home and her parents saw what had happened. An ambulance was at the house within 15 minutes - meaning the woman spent over an hour with the blade in her back before she was seen by doctors. It was on her arrival at the hospital that the image was taken. The surgeon confirmed the picture had been taken by medics - but he could not say how it fell into the hands of the Russian newspaper Tvoi Den. The doctors, he said, operated immediately to remove the knife. 

It is believed that Julia spent ten days in the hospital after the operation. 'She had a straightforward recovery,' the surgeon said - suffering no long-term effects from the horrific attack.