Doctors have discovered 26 needles embedded in the body of a woman in China, believed to have been inserted not long after she was born by grandparents upset she was not a boy, state media said Friday.

The sewing needles were found in an X-ray after the 29-year-old, Luo Cuifen, went to a hospital in Yunnan province complaining of blood in her urine, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Doctors plan to operate to remove as many of the needles as they can, it said, but face "great difficulties" as the images show several had penetrated vital organs including her lungs, liver, bladder, small intestine and kidneys.

She also had needles in her head, neck, and shoulder -- some of which are dangerously close to major arteries -- and one in her brain that has broken into three pieces, the paper said.

"Her grandmother and grandfather are suspected of doing it because they had wanted a boy, but as they are dead now there is no evidence," the paper said.

Luo, who comes from a poor farming community, said two needles were removed by doctors when she was a child, the paper said. But she has had no health problems until recently giving birth.

Due to the difficulty in removing the remaining needles, the unnamed hospital is organising a 16-member team of doctors, including some from as far away as Canada, for consultations ahead of an operation expected next week.

"Taking out the needles will be like dredging for needles in the ocean," the paper quoted one doctor as saying.

"But if we don't operate, her life could be in jeopardy."

Under China's "one child" family planning policy, the traditional preference for boys remains strong in the vast and poor rural countryside, and reports of aborted female foetuses and infanticide remain common.