1 The 8-Year-Old Known as the “ Fish Boy” (Ichtyosis)
Eight-year-old Pan Xianhang can't sleep at night. Known as “Fish Boy” by locals in the Eastern China province of Wenling, little Xianhang is covered from head-to-toe in thick, itchy scales.
Diagnosed at birth with the rare genetic disease Ichtyosis, Pan has lived his whole life with unbearable pain, often suffering from overheating and extreme itching. His severe skin abnormalities have affected the shape of his eyelids, nose, mouth, and ears, while also limiting movement of his arms and legs.
According to The Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types, it is estimated that more than 16,000 babies are born with some form of Ichthyosis each year, varying in severity of symptoms. (Source)
2 The Woman Who Sees the World Upside Down
(Spatial Orientation Phenomenon)
Bojana Danilovic has what you might call a unique worldview. Due to a rare condition, she sees everything upside down, all the time. The 28-year-old Serbian council employee uses an upside down monitor at work and relaxes at home in front of an upside down television stacked on top of the normal one that the rest of her family watches.
Experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been consulted after local doctors were flummoxed by the extremely unusual condition. According to them, she is suffering from a neurological syndrome called "spatial orientation phenomenon." (Source | Via)
3 The Woman with Two Vaginas (Uterus Didelphys)
Hazel Jones always wondered why she suffered from terrible cramps and heavy periods during puberty. However, it wasn't until she turned 18 that she was given her astonishing diagnosis; she has two vaginas.
The blonde 27-year-old from High Wycombe has the million-in-one condition called uterus didelphys, which means that she has two separate uteruses and cervixes.
Hazel went to the doctor after her long-term boyfriend told her she was "different" in the genital area. Sitting next to Hazel, Doctor Dawn Harper explained: "When developing in the womb girls start with two tubes. These fuse and the septum breaks down and forms one uterus. In around one in 3,000 cases the septum stays within the uterus but to actually have two separate uteruses is much rarer."
Hazel says she is comfortable with having the condition, despite the fact that she had to lose her virginity twice, essentially. (Source)
4 The Man Who Believes He is Dead (Cotard's
A patient has written a disturbing account of his life with a condition which makes him think he is dead, describing how he spent his days in graveyards as it was "the closest I could get to death."
The British man, identified only as Graham, woke up nine years ago utterly convinced that he was no longer alive, even though he was still breathing. Doctors diagnosed him with Cotard's Syndrome, which is also known as "Walking Corpse Syndrome" because it makes people think they have turned into zombies.
Graham did not believe them, however, and insisted that his brain was dead. The unusual condition emerged after Graham, who suffered from severe depression, tried to commit suicide by taking an electrical appliance with him into the bath. Eight months later he told doctors that his brain had died or was, at best, missing.
Only through months of therapy and treatment was he able to overcome the condition and live anything approaching a normal life. Cotard's Syndrome is among the rarest diseases in the world, and it is believed that just a few hundred people are affected at any one time. It is linked to depression and comes in a variety of forms, including the sensation that the limbs are no longer functioning. (Source | Via)
5 The Girl Who Must Eat Every 15 Minutes to Stay Alive
(Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome)
Most of us struggle to keep our weight down, but not Lizzie Velasquez. The 21-year-old woman from Austin, Texas actually has to eat every 15 minutes to say alive. Miss Velasquez has a rare condition which prevents her from gaining weight, even though she eats up to 60 small meals a day.
Despite consuming between 5,000 and 8,000 calories daily, the communications student has never tipped the scales over 4st 3lbs. She is one of three people in the world with a rare disease that prevents people from gaining weight. Professor Garg and his team now believe that Lizzie may have a form of Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome (NPS), which causes accelerated ageing, fat loss from the face and body, and tissue degeneration. (Source | Via)
9 The Real Life "Benjamin Button" Brothers
Adam Rainer was born in Graz, Austria in 1899. Thanks to the fact that Adam attempted to join the army when he was 18 to participate in WWI, we know that at that age Rainer had reached a height of just 4 feet 6.3 inches (1.38 m), and then at 19 he measured in at 4 feet 8.3 inches (1.43 m) when he tried to join up again.
While he was short, he actually had exceptionally large feet for his height, with his shoes measuring in at a European size of 43 at the age of 18 (US size 10). According to Rainier, by the time he hit 21, while he still barely classified as a dwarf in height, his shoe size had gone up to a European size 53 (US 20).
Although his feet were continuing to grow at a remarkable pace, Rainer himself was staying at more or less the same height. That's when something even more bizarre than his clown-feet happened. For an unknown reason at the time, Adam started growing again... rapidly. From his 21st birthday to his 32nd, Rainer grew from just under 4 feet 10 inches tall to 7 feet 2 inches tall (1.47 m to 2.18 m).
After a medical exam, Doctors F. Windholz and A. Mandl discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland, which not only explained his rapid growth but his partial blindness, as well. This tumor resulted in a condition known as acromegaly, where the pituitary gland produces excessive amounts of growth hormone during adulthood. In 1930, doctors tried to fix the problem by removing the tumor, but he still continued to grow, albeit at a much slower rate.
Over the final 19 years of his life, Rainer's spinal curve would continue to increase and he'd grow another 6 inches. In 1950, he died at the age of 51 at a height of about 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m), making him the only known person to spend time officially classified as a dwarf and a giant. (Source | Via)