It has become the bane of economy jet travel. Yet one of the earliest victims of deep vein thrombosis, if new medical research is to be believed, never set eyes on an aeroplane.
Instead, he was afflicted by the condition while nailed to a cross, a victim not of long-haul travel but of religious intolerance.
DVT is the controversial theory put forward by an Israeli researcher to explain the death by crucifixion of Jesus. Contrary to the popular belief that he died as a result of blood loss about three to six hours after he was nailed to the cross, Benjamin Brenner believes he was probably killed by a blood clot that reached his lungs.
Such pulmonary embolisms, leading to sudden death, can stem from immobilisation, multiple trauma and dehydration, said Prof Brenner, a researcher at Rambam medical centre in Haifa.
“This fits well with Jesus’s condition and actually was in all likelihood the major cause of death by crucifixion,” he writes in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
A 1986 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association mentioned the possibility of a blood clot but concluded that Jesus died of blood loss. Prof Brenner said research into blood coagulation had made significant advances since that study was published.
The article notes that before crucifixion Jesus underwent scourging, but concludes that “the amount of blood loss by itself” would not have killed him. Prof Brenner believes DVT, which usually occurs in the lower legs as a result of being in a cramped position for long periods, is a more likely culprit.
Jesus may have been particularly at risk. Thrombophilia, a rare condition in which blood has an increased tendency to clot, is common among natives of Galilee, the researcher writes.