Rare medical diseases list
[WARNING: some images and content may disturb and are not work safe.] Gone are the days of sideshows displaying freaks of nature, but the diseases that caused these so-called “freaks” are still with us. Political correctness has made it impolite to display the sufferers of these illnesses, so we are left with the Internet – the last resort of those with a fascinating for the bizarre. This list looks at some of the most unusual (and sometimes horrifying) anomalies of medical science.
Diprospus (sometimes called Craniofacial duplication) is a rare disorder in which the face is duplicated on the head (as in the picture above). This is not to be confused with fetus in fetu (item 9) which is a joining of two separate fetuses; diprosopus is caused by a protein called (believe it or not) “sonic hedgehog homolog”. The odd name is due to a controversial tradition in molecular biology to use unusual names for genes. The protein determines the makeup of the face, and when there is too much of it, you get a second face in a mirror image. If you do not have enough of the protein, you can end up with underdeveloped facial features. Children with this defect are normally stillborn, but a young girl, Lali Singh, born in 2008 survived for 2 full months before dying of a heart attack.
The man pictured above is Sanju Bhagat aged 36 from India. He is fully pregnant with his own twin. Because Sanju lacked a placenta, the fetus inside him attached directly to his blood supply. Doctors delivered the twin which was severely malformed and did not survive. Fetus in fetu is an extremely rare disorder in which a twin somehow becomes connected (internally or partly externally) to its twin while still in the womb. In some cases the fetus in fetu will remain inside the host twin unknown until it begins to cause problems. In more common cases, the signs are visible from the outset and are often initially confused with cysts or cancers. In a recent case a 7 year old boy was discovered to be carrying his twin when his parents noticed that something was moving in his stomach. You can read more about that here.
The Elephant Man (Joseph Merrick) is probably the most famous case of Proteus Syndrome. The disease causes excessive bone growth, excessive skin growth, and frequently comes with tumors. Only 200 cases have been confirmed worldwide since the disease was officially discovered in 1979. It is possible to have a minor form of this disease which can go undiagnosed. The case of the Elephant Man has been the sole reason that this disease is so widely known. Sufferers have normal brain function and intelligence.
Möbius Syndrome is a rare disorder in which the facial muscles are paralyzed. In most cases the eyes are also unable to move from side to side. The disease prevents a sufferer from having any facial expressions, which can make them appear to be uninterested or “dull” – sometimes leading to people thinking they are rude. Sufferers have completely normal mental development. The causes are not fully understood and there is no treatment aside from addressing the symptoms (such as an inability to feed as a baby).6
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