Top 10 Shocking Medical Stories
10. Polish Railroad Worker Wakes Up From 19-Year Coma
During the 1980's, Poland was still run by a Communist regime. It was a terrible period
of despair, great poverty and confusion.
Polish railway worker Jan Grzebski, suffered a severe head injury while attaching two train
carriages. He was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors had even more devastating
news for the family: besides the injuries caused by the work-related accident, Jan Grzebski
was suffering from brain cancer. He fell into a deep coma of 19 years. Doctors didn't expect
him to live longer than three years. His family had faith that Jan would recover and his wife
Gertruda provided the loving care Jan needed to survive. The amazing part of this story
is that Mr. Grzebski awoke on April, 12, 2007 after 19 years of coma. He awoke to a world
of democracy and capitalism. Mr. Grzebski was surprised to find out that 18 years had
passed since the fall of Communism and that 11 grandchildren couldn't wait to hug him.
"What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and
never stop moaning," he said. "I've got nothing to complain about." This memorable statement
is the perfect reminder to all of us who sometimes are complaining too much. Sadly, we often
don't appreciate the simple things in life until they're taken away from us.
9. Children with the Werewolf Syndrome
Indian boy Prithviraj Patil and Thai girl Supatra Sasuphan have dreams and behave just
like other children around the world: they love to be included in activities and games;
they enjoy swimming or painting, and most of all, eating ice-cream. What makes them
different is the fact that both children were born with congenital hypertrichosis, known
also as the Werewolf Syndrome.
This terrible disease is very rare and unusual. There have been fewer than 50 cases documented
since 1638. The children are suffering from uncontrollable hair growth. Thick animal-like
fur covers their head and parts of the body. Unfortunately, science and medicine haven't
found an answer for their disease.
It's so sad to read headlines such as "Half human, half wolf" or "Real Wolf Kids". The
cruelty doesn't come from the syndrome, but from society...
8. Amazing Human Electrical Conductor
Some people attracted worldwide attention by claiming they can harness the power of
electricity. Jose Rafael Marquez Ayala is one of them. Puerto Rican Jose Ayala seems
to be a human superconductor, because he can carry huge amounts of electrical current through
his body. Jose withstood various strong electric shocks with absolutely no side effects. Moreover,
he burns paper with his fingers. Is his power real, or a hoax? If it is real, it is certainly
7. Miraculous Recovery After a 47-Story Fall
According to the NY Daily News, the Moreno brothers, Alcides and Edgar, were working
on a window-washing platform attached to a skyscraper on E. 66th St., New York, when
the platform collapsed on December 7, 2007. The 16-foot-long aluminum swing to the roof
failed. Alcides Moreno cheated death after falling from the 47th story of the building,
but Edgar didn't survive.
The doctors performed at least 16 surgeries, because Moreno broke his ribs, both legs and
right arm, badly injuring the spine. The medical staff described the victim's recovery as "miraculous"
and "unprecedented." Doctors predicted that Moreno's recovery would be complete in one,
6. Teen Survives 118 Days Without A Heart
D'zhana Simmons of South Carolina is literally a walking, talking, medical miracle. The brave
teenager lived for about four months without a heart, as she awaited a new, functional
heart to replace the damaged one. Simmons suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM),
meaning her weak and enlarged heart wasn't pumping blood efficiently. The surgeons from
the Miami Holtz Children's Hospital performed an initial transplant on July 2, 2008, but
the heart malfunctioned and had to be quickly removed. Meanwhile, D'zhana was kept alive
by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device. "She essentially lived for 118 days
without a heart, with her circulation supported only by two blood pumps," said Dr. Ricci,
Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.
5. A Life Without Pain
Gabby Gingras is an energetic 9-year-old girl who is determined to be just like every other
child around her. What makes her different from most of us, is a rare and extremely unusual
disease known as CIPA -- congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. There are only 100
documented cases of CIPA around the globe.
Gabby was born without the ability to feel pain, cold and heat. It might seem like an
amazing gift, but actually it's a devastating condition. Pain sensitivity is crucial, because
pain works similar to a warning and defense mechanism. Gabby's parents noticed something
wasn't right when their daughter was five months old. She was biting her fingers until
they bled. Later on, the girl lost an eye and severely injured the other one due to
excessive rubbing and scratching. Various measures have been taken to prevent these
types of accidents. The desperate parents are doing their best under the difficult and
challenging circumstances. Brave Gabby was the subject of a documentary. "A Life Without
Pain" by Melody Gilbert. It tells the powerful story of Gabby Gingras.
4. Allergic to H20
Whether it's taking a hot bath, brushing your teeth, cleaning the house, or simply quenching
your thirst, water is an essential part of our daily routine. We just cannot live without
water! That is why it is a wonder to us that people can be allergic to water. Believe it
or not, some people suffer from extremely rare physical forms of urticaria known as
Aquagenic Urticaria and Aquagenic Pruritus -- both of which are 'allergic' reactions
to water. They are so unusual, that only about 30 or 40 cases are documented worldwide.
Ashleigh Morris (21, Australia) and Michaela Dutton (23, England) developed a one in 230
million skin disorder -- Aquagenic Urticaria. If their skin comes in to contact with water,
itchy red welts, lumps and blisters appear all over the body. Showering is a really painful
experience for both of them. Michaela cannot drink water, coffee or tea, she cannot even
eat fruits because they trigger the burning rash on the skin and make her throat swell
up, but her body seems to tolerate Diet Coke. Ashleigh tries to avoid water as much as possible
-- she stopped doing sports and any other physical effort that makes her sweat. Aquagenic
Urticaria is so extremely rare, that even doctors don't fully understand the complex
mechanism behind the bizarre skin disorder.
3. The Family That Couldn't Sleep
FFI is the acronym of a fatal genetic sleep disorder called Fatal Familial Insomnia. Jay
Schadler and Laura Viddy best describe the rare disease: "Those affected by FFI are forever
trying and failing to fall asleep. The disease steals one's sleep, mind and ultimately one's
life, and, before dying, one hovers for months in a twilight world."
29-year-old Cheryl Dinges (left) is one of the members of a family that couldn't sleep.
Her family carries the gene for Fatal Familial Insomnia, such a rare condition that it is
believed to affect only 40 families worldwide. Fatal Familial Insomnia killed their mother,
grandfather and their uncle. Cheryl Dinges declined to be tested, even if her sister
(right) didn't inherit the mutation. FFI begins with mild twitching, panic attacks and insomnia.
In time, patients start to hallucinate and insomnia becomes so severe that they totally
lack the ability to sleep. Ultimately, patients develop dementia and, eventually, die. The
mutated protein is called PrPSc. If only one of the parents has the mutated gene, there
are 50% chances of inheriting and developing FFI.
2. Butterfly Children
The sad story of Sarah and Joshua Thurmond started when doctors diagnosed them with Epidermolysis
bullosa (EB), another rare genetic disorder that cause the skin to be extremely fragile.
Erosions and blisters occur because the skin layers lack a fibrous protein that is responsible
for anchoring filaments to underlying tissues.
Joshua suffers from one of the most severe types of EB, Epidermolysis bullosa dystrophica.
Unfortunately, his sister too, but she passed away on Oct. 8, 2009. The disease took her
at the age of 20. According to medical studies, people born with EB have a life expectancy
of about 30, maximum 40 years.
"Cotton Wool Babies", "Crystal Skin Children" or "Butterfly Children" are the terms often
used to describe the fragile condition of younger patients. Their skin is as fragile
as a butterfly's wings. The slightest rub can cause painful wounds. Brave Sarah and
Joshua learned to live with extreme and constant pain. Special bandages help lessen the pain
and prevent infections, but currently, there is no cure for EB. Even if these children
will never know what it's like to run, swim or jump.
1. Giving Birth to a Mummy
Zahra Aboutalib, from Morocco, delivered a child she'd been carrying for almost half
a century. This shocking yet fascinating story began in 1955 when Zahra went into labor.
She was rushed to a hospital, but after watching a woman dying on the operation table during
a Caesarean section, Zahra fled back in her small village outside Casablanca. After the
pains were gone and the baby stopped kicking, Zahra considered him a "sleeping baby". "Sleeping
babies" are, according to Moroccan folk belief, babies that can live inside a woman's womb
to protect her honor.
When Zahra was 75, the excruciating pains occurred again. Doctors performed an ultrasound
test and discovered that her "sleeping child" was actually an ectopic pregnancy. What is
even more amazing is how Zahra survived and how the dead fetus was accepted by the body
just like another organ. Generally, this doesn't happen. If not discovered in time, the growing
fetus will eventually strain and burst the organ that contains it. Under these circumstances,
the mother has few surviving chances. After nearly five hours, the surgeons successfully
removed Zahra's calcified fetus.
Stone babies, lithopedions, are an extremely rare medical phenomenon. According to the
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, only 290 cases of stone babies have been documented.