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Medical Oddities and Weird Diseases

Joseph Carey Merrick, better known as “The Elephant Man,” became well known in Britain during the Victorian Era. Born with a congenital disorder that began to change his appearance at the age of three, his startling disfigurement made him a popular sideshow attraction. When sideshows were made illegal in England, Joseph was taken in by a doctor and taught to be a gentleman in both manner and dress.

Ectrodactyly is a condition where digits or limbs are either fused or missing. Often called “Lobster Claw Syndrome” a lot of victims of this congenital defect have become sideshow performers, billing themselves with monikers such as “Lobster Boy.” The fused limbs can have surprising functionality in certain cases, but often require the use of a wheelchair.

There is a tribe of people living in Zimbabwe known as the Vadoma, that have become known as the “Ostritch People” for the prevalence of electrodactyly in their population. Many of the tribe members are born with fused toes that appear ostritch like. The tribe maintains a consistent population of such births due to their relative isolation. Those with this condition are not handicapped, and are well integrated into the tribe.

Polydactyly is a condition in which extra digits are present on hands or feet. In most cases the extra digit is unusable and removed at an early age. This condition is rare in humans, but very common in cats, and is not at all unusual for them to be born with three or more extra digits on each paw.

Dede Koswara has an extremely rare genetic defect known as Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis that renders his body incapable of fighting off various strains of HPV, which is present in 80% of the world population. Dede has become an internet sensation, and is often described as half tree / half man. There have been several made for television documentaries about his condition and his attempts to treat it, but no treatment has been entirely successful.

Jesus Aceves is only one member of his family to have a rare condition known as hypertrichosis. This condition causes hair to grow very thick and all over the face. Jesus attempted to shave his face and get a regular job, but he learned very fast that it would be much easier for him to become one of the acts in the sideshow. Several members of his family have the same condition.

Yang Hui Ming suffered from what is known as Lion Face Syndrome since he was four years old. A mung bean sized lump grew on his left eyelid which became bigger and bigger as he got older. It has grown in such a way on his face along with growth on his left forehead that it resembles a lion's face.

Zhang Ruifang, a 100-year old woman, from China’s Henan Province, has a strange horn coming out of the left side of her forehead. Her bizarre horn started growing last year, and now measures between 5-6 cm in length. It’s reported that the protusion resembles a cutaneous horn, which is made up of compacted keratin, which is the same protein we have in our hair and nails, and forms horns, wool and feathers in animals. They usually develop in fair-skinned elderly adults who have a history of significant sun exposure but it is extremely unusual to see it form protrusions of this size.

Twenty-two-year old Wu Xiaoyan’s parents have been unable to afford the medical costs and have had to watch helplessly as their beloved daughter’s face twisted out of shape – leaving her looking like one of the creations from the Avatar movie. Doctor Liao Quiqing from the hospital that is treating her in Lishui Zhejang, Southern China said: “She now has a severe facial deformity – a Fibrous Dysplasia.

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Rapex: The Anti-Rape Condom
The Real-Life Hannibal Lechter
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Finding A Severed Head
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When Dog Poop Tells A Story
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