1The 8-Year-Old Known as the “ Fish Boy” (Ichtyosis)
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)
2The Woman Who Sees the World Upside Down (Spatial Orientation Phenomenon)
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)
3The Woman with Two Vaginas (Uterus Didelphys)
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)
4The Man Who Believes He is Dead (Cotard's Syndrome)
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)
5The Girl Who Must Eat Every 15 Minutes to Stay Alive (Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome)
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)
6The Man Who was a Dwarf and Later a Giant (Acromegaly)
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)
7The Oldest Looking Teenager (Progeria)
Progeria takes its name from the Greek word "proeros" meaning prematurely old, and involves a mutant protein called progerin that accelerates physical ageing. It ages the body at eight times the normal rate, leaving Hayley with skin that is thin and papery and bones that are fragile. Progeria patients normally die from heart attacks or strokes at an average age of 13. (Source)
8The Woman Who Cries Tears of Blood (Haemolacria)
After seeking medical assistance, she was prescribed eye drops to ease the burning pain she said was "indescribable." Her local hospital ruled out both an eye infection and conjunctivitis, believing that she may be suffering from a rare condition known as haemolacria, although it has yet to be officially diagnosed.
Several case of haemolacria have surfaced in recent years, although very little is known about the condition or its causes. (Source | Via)
9The Real Life "Benjamin Button" Brothers (Leukodystrophy)
Their tragic situation mirrors the Brad Pitt film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which an old man keeps growing younger. The brothers now spend their days watching episodes of The Smurfs, eating crisps, and playing Snakes and Ladders because Clue is too difficult.
The brothers began behaving oddly after their parents retired to Spain in 2007. However, things came to a head last year when former RAF gunner Michael was evicted from his flat and slept rough for three weeks. Concerned Salvation Army workers sent him to a doctor and it was then that experts diagnosed his terminal leukodystrophy.
Further tests confirmed that Matthew, who used to work for the snack company Walkers, had the same devastating illness. The neurological disease is fairly common in newborns but affects just 100 adults in Britain. It attacks the brain, nervous system, and spinal cord. (Source)
10The Woman Who Grows Fingernails in Place of Hair (An Unknown Skin Condition)
In August 2011, Isom was admitted to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Doctors determined that she produces 12 times the number of skin cells per hair follicle, which suffocates her skin. Instead of hair, her skin follicles produce human nails.
Doctors have been able to control her symptoms. However, Isom's mysterious health crisis has caused a financial crisis. Isom has established the S.A.I. Foundation to raise money for her treatments and to help others who are suffering from an unknown illness. (Source | Via)