Conjoined twins Shivanath and Shivram Sahu shocked people when they were born in a village near Raipur in India, so much so that some are now worshipping them as divine incarnations.
Even though doctors have told the 12-year-old conjoined twins that it would be possible to separate them, the two boys, who share two legs and four arms, say they’d rather remain together.
“We don't wish to get separated,” the Daily Mail quoted them as saying. “We will stay like this even when we grow old. We want to live as we are.”
They are believed to share the same stomach but have independent lungs, hearts and brains.
With practice they have learned to shower, eat, get dressed and comb each other’s hair with minimal fuss.
They can walk down the stairs of their split-level home and even run on all six limbs to play with neighboring children.
"We have taught ourselves everything. We ride to school on a bicycle and playing cricket is no problem," Shivanath said.
Their father, Raj Kumar, 45, says they are also excellent in school and considered among the top students.
Kumar is married to Srimati and has five daughters. He is very protective of his two sons and will not let them leave the village.
“During rainy season it becomes difficult for them to walk and when one wants to sit, the other has to lie down. But they don't fight. They have similar opinions and if one says he wants to play, the other one agrees," Kumar said, according to the Mirror. "God has created them like this so they have to walk like they do. They will remain like this. I don't want anything else."
Dr. Krishan Chugh, head of pediatrics at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, India, looked at photos of the twins. He says while it is possible to separate the twins, both legs would likely go to Shivram, while Shivanath would be left without legs and need full-time care.
Though the twins and their father may not want that scenario, Dr. Chugh believes their will may change when they get older.
"They are 12 years old now and they must see others running around as individuals and being separate mentally and physically," Chugh said. "How much they are motivated to be like the others is what we would have to try and assist."
One young boy suffers from a very rare condition which leaves his body covered in painful blisters.
Geraint Burns, of Neath, South Wales, has such sensitive skin that it breaks out in agonizing blisters if he gets too hot or gets rubbed or knocked.
The 18-month-old’s skin is so red and sore that strangers will ask if he has been burnt, forcing his mother, Angharard to give out leaflets explaining his ailment, the New York Daily News reports.
Angharard Burns, 27, said: "It's frightening how many people just assume his skin is a result of something I have done wrong.
"I've even made cards that I hand out to people who stare at us in the street to educate them about the condition.
"Geraint reacts really badly to changes in temperatures so I have to be extremely careful when we go out.
"I have to leave his top off sometimes in supermarkets when we go shopping so his body doesn't over heat.
"People always stare at his skin and I've overheard women before whispering about how cold it is and how cruel I must be to not make him wear a t-shirt."
(photo via NY Daily News)
Geraint was born with diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis – a condition where the skin is thickened and very easily blistered. Only one in 500,000 people around the world suffer from it.
People often stare and believe Geraint has been sunburned, and accuse his mom of not thoroughly caring for him.
Angharad said: "When Geraint was born his tiny body was covered in blisters and a rash.
"The doctors thought he might have had an infection so he was taken straight to the ICU.
"I was completely overwhelmed and in a state of shock - my pregnancy was great and I'd had a reasonably easy labor so why was my baby's skin so sore?
"I started blaming myself - I was sick with worry. I was advised not to eat peanut butter throughout my pregnancy but I had and I kept thinking it could be the cause.
"The dermatologist came to have a look at him and thought it might be mastocytosis so he did a skin biopsy.
"When doctors confirmed it was diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis I was devastated - the whole process was a complete blur, I'd never heard of anything like it.
"I was so frightened all I wanted to do was give my baby a cuddle but it would be too painful for his fragile skin.
"I have to be really careful when I hold him because his skin blisters so easily.
"Even breastfeeding was a struggle, it would make his body over heat and he would itch constantly.
"Now, Geraint will scream for hours but I just have to sit with him and wait until he calms down - I can't pick him up like other mothers would because it only makes him worse."
The condition can even lead to anaphylactic shock – a severe and likely life threatening reaction.
The rare condition is induced by the accumulation of mast cells in the skin. Mast cells contain substances such as histamine that control allergic reactions, according to the Genetic and Rare Disease Information Centre.
Geraint has a bad reaction to most fruits and vegetables that have high range of histamine, like strawberries and tomatoes.
Angharad said: "Geraint has to take his medication at least four times a day otherwise he can become extremely poorly.
"As Geraint was born with the condition he is one of the lucky ones and will hopefully grow out of it by the time he's seven or eight.
"My dream is to be able to take him on a sunny holiday somewhere and for him to enjoy the heat like any other child.
"I've been fundraising for the UK Mastocytosis Support Group with an aim is to raise awareness and to raise money to fund research."
Irene Wilson, team leader at the United Kingdom Mastocytosis Support Group said: "With Mastocytosis the body produces too many mast cells. Mast cells are found throughout the body in health and have beneficial effects on wound healing and immunity.
"They can also cause disease by becoming involved in allergic reactions.
"A child's symptoms vary from child to child and can include itching, flushing, hives, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, GI hemorrhage, bone pain, headache and irritability.
"Many doctors have never seen a case of mastocytosis, and even some specialists might not recognize the condition."
While there is currently no known cure for mastocytosis, there are treatments for the symptoms of the disease. No one treatment is successful in all children.
The cause is unknown and familial situations are uncommon.
A Saskatchewan woman has filed a complaint with the Canadian province’s Human Rights Commission, demanding the removal of the sex listed on anyone’s birth certificate because her child is a transgender.
Fran Forsberg filed the complaint on behalf of her child, Renn, after the provincial Vital Statistics Agency (VSA) rejected the mother’s request to change Renn’s sex designation from “male” to “female” on the 6-year-old’s birth records, CBC News reports.
Forsberg’s child was born with male genitalia, but has identified as a girl since she was just 3 years old.
Forsberg submitted reports from a physician and psychologist confirming that Renn identifies as female, but the VSA refused to make the change because a Saskatchewan resident can only change the sex designation on birth certificates when a person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.
Forsberg argues that confusion and discrimination can be triggered when the gender marker – M to F – on a birth certificate, driver’s license or passport doesn’t match someone’s physical presentation.
“We used to have race on our birth certificates—also, what your father did for a living. It’s irrelevant,” the mom told CBC News. “What I would like to see is for gender to be removed completely from birth certificates.”
Even though birth certificates fall under provincial law, Canada’s federal government requires them for passports.
Forsberg says that Renn showed obvious signs that she was a transgender about three years ago. She started self-harming by banging her head against the wall if she wasn’t allowed to wear girls’ clothing and be called a girl.
Now, Renn’s 11-year-old sister, Krista, helps her select different outfits to wear – from black sequin halter dresses to fancy pink gowns.
Renn is also allowed to go to the girls’ bathroom at her elementary school.
Their mother stressed the importance of healthy self-esteem in her children.
"I want people to understand that my kids do not have an issue with their gender or their gender expression," Forsberg said. "It is society's issue."
CKOM reported that Forsberg has received criticism including that Renn is too young to really identify as a transgender. But Forsberg argues tackling the issue while she’s young will help her daughter as she becomes older and other people like her.
"I don't want my kids to think that they have something to hide or that they have something to be ashamed about, because they don't," she adds.
Alexis Shapiro, a 12-year-old Texas girl who has experienced rapid weight gain due to hypothalamic obesity, remains in the pediatric ICU at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center after surgeons changed plans midway through gastric bypass surgery Friday due to her enlarged liver.
Alexis, of Cibolo, Texas, who is 4-foot-7 and weighs 203 pounds, suffers from a rare condition called hypothalamic obesity related to brain surgery she underwent previously. The medical procedure caused her to pack on over 140 pounds in two years, according to the Daily Mail.
Around 11 a.m. Friday, the Cincinnati hospital’s staff live-tweeted on Twitter that the surgeons could not move forward with the gastric bypass because it turns out Alexis’ liver is bigger than they had anticipated. Operation was no longer the girl’s safest option.
The team of doctors decided to go on with what they called a “staged approach,” and perform a sleeve gastrectomy, which reduces the stomach to 25 percent of its original size.
According to the hospital’s Twitter page:
Sleeve gastrectomy still expected to help Alexis lose weight, which will also reduce liver size #HyObesity
— Cincinnati Childrens (@CincyChildrens) March 21, 2014
“We were very pleased with the outcome of the operation,” Dr. Thomas Inge said at a press conference. “So it was not disappointing at all.”
Dr. Inge said that it has not been decided whether or not the gastric bypass surgery will move forward, it all depends on Alexis’ progress.
He adds that while sleeve gastrectomy is an effective and popular weight-loss option, the 12-year-old may not be able to lose as much weight with it as with a bypass.
The weight-loss surgery to remove part of the vagus nerve that controls appetite was also cancelled, the New York Daily News reported.
“I think she will have a new normal,” Dr. Inge said about Alexis’ future.
Alexis is said to be doing well and recovering in the ICU, where physicians are monitoring her fluid levels and blood sugars. She will stay there all weekend, possibly until the end of next week because of medical problems, like Type 2 diabetes and pulmonary disease.
She is expected to stay on a ventilator overnight. Doctors will discuss tomorrow whether or not to remove her breathing tube.
Dr. Inge said Alexis will be able to go home to Texas with her parents in about two weeks.
According to the Daily Mail, after a military health insurance, TRICARE, rejected the family’s initial request for coverage due to lack of information about Alexis’ condition, her family was afraid appealing would be a longer process than she had.
“These kids will literally eat themselves to death,” Jenny Shapiro said. “That’s what I’m scared of.”
Alexis, who is now being home-schooled with no friends, has withdrawn into her shell because of her condition. However, the overwhelming amount of support and funds on the “Hope for Alexis” GoFundMe page has given Alexis hope.
“I hope this Friday will be the beginning of the end of all of her pain and insecurities,” according to a blog post by Jenny Shapiro. “I hope she won’t have to endure another day feeling like she is starving. I hope she will be able to think about fun things, not just when she will get to eat next.”
A Chinese woman, who had a bullet lodged in her skull for 48 years without knowing it, underwent surgery to get rid of it.
The woman, identified only by her surname Zhao, 62, visited the doctors after suffering from headaches, blocked nasal passages and swollen nymph nodes for over a decade, the Daily Mail reported.
Doctors found out that she had a bullet 2.5 centimeters long and .5 centimeters diameter, and removed it from her head.
“I am happy that the bullet did not kill me, I am grateful to it for allowing me to live and have the opportunity of my life with my family,” the 62-year-old, of Liaoning province, told local media.
How she went 48 years without knowing about the bullet raised doubts and resulted in conflicting media reports.
Zhao says she was struck on her right temple when she was 14 years old, according to Want China Times. She believed it was a stone at the time.
The Shanghaiist quoted the woman as saying she was hit by a stray bullet as a young girl, but only felt minor pain so she decided to leave it.
Doctors claim that she was able to live only because the bullet turned and eventually lodged in her nose and damage to the brain was prevented.
(Photo via the Daily Mail)
A 62-year-old Las Vegas resident owes more than $400,000 in medical bills with more on the way, and he says it’s because of problems with Nevada’s online health insurance exchange.
Larry Basich said he signed up for a health insurance plan via the state’s Obamacare exchange when it was introduced on Oct. 1, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Basich signed up for a UnitedHealthcare’s MyHPNSilver1 plan in November and paid his $160 premium as directed. But he never received notice that he was enrolled, despite Nevada Health Link representatives reportedly telling him that he was registered for a plan.
Basich suffered a heart attack at the end of December and had to undergo a triple bypass on Jan. 3.
His insurance was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, and even though Nevada Health Link claimed he was enrolled in a plan, Basich was not actually insured at the time of his operation. His medical expenses for January and February add up to $407,000.
According to the Review-Journal, now no insurer will claim his bills. He has since been appealing to the exchange and its contractor, Xerox, for help.
“All I wanted to do when I moved here was buy a house, get a dog and go to some spring training games for the Dodgers,” Basich, originally from Hawaii, told the Review-Journal.
Xerox is trying to assign Basich’s bills to another insurance plan, but the plan does not want to accept them, Fox News reported.
Tamar Burch, an insurance broker who is helping Basich, said Xerox is spending more time lawyering up for a legal fight than fixing than fixing Basich’s problems.
"I believe Xerox is covering themselves because of a huge system error," Burch told the paper.
Xerox says it is working to resolve the issue and is doing all it can to help out Basich.
News 3 received a statement from Xerox spokesperson Jennifer Wasmer, saying, “Mr. Basich’s issue is complex, and we’re working on it every day. We are in touch with Mr. Basich, his broker, the carriers, Silver State Health Insurance Exchange leadership, and the Division of Insurance to sort it out.. we’ll continue to keep the goal of resolving Mr. Basich’s issue front and center.”
A 4-month-old baby in Maryland was found to have several fully formed teeth growing inside a rare type of tumor in his brain.
It is believed that the baby’s case is the first in history.
The child underwent surgery to remove the tumor and teeth, which have since been sent to a pathologist, the New England Journal of Medicine reported.
It all started with a routine health check that showed the child’s head was growing rapidly.
The doctors had him get an MRI scan, which revealed a tumor in the baby’s pituitary gland, measuring 4.1 centimeters by 4 cm by 3.5 cm. The scan also showed that the tumor contained fully formed teeth to those found in the lower jaw.
Doctors determined that the tumor was a slow-growing mass known as adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. It seemed to have grown out of the baby’s Rathke’s pouch, which is the pituitary gland’s embryonic precursor.
[Warning: The photo below the x-ray may be disturbing for some.]
“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it’s unheard of,” Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who performed the surgery with his colleague, Dr. Edward Ahn, told Live Science.
He adds that craniopharyngiomas commonly contain calcium deposits, “but when we pulled out a full tooth...I think that’s something slightly different.”
The baby will now undergo thyroid and hormone treatments, but doctors say he is progressing well in the year since he underwent surgery.
“He's doing extremely well, all things considered,” Beaty said. “This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the moderate surgical era this child would not have survived.”
This is not the first time teeth have been found in people’s brains, according to The Independent.
[Warning: The photo below the x-ray may be disturbing for some.]
A woman with a potentially life-threatening eating disorder who visited a hospital in Clarenville, Newfoundland, says a nurse told her to “go get some supper and come back” to the emergency room if she felt more ill.
Carla Lamb, 31, suffers from anorexia and bulimia, and had a relapse last week. She spoke to a counselor at the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, who told her to go look for help at Cross Memorial Hospital.
"I was in a lot of pain, physically and mentally. I was ready to start cutting myself and needed to speak to somebody ... and I needed to know that I was safe. I didn't feel safe," Lamb told CBC News.
A nurse at the hospital in Clarenville didn’t see any injuries, so she told Lamb to go get something to eat and come back to the ER if she still didn’t feel well.
"She said, 'We've got five more people that definitely are ahead of you. Can you go get some supper and come back?' I don't want supper; I am here for an eating disorder. I'm hungry, and I told you that, but it doesn't mean that I can eat," she said.
Lamb said if it weren’t for her husband's support when she came back home, she would have developed an urge to hurt herself.
An eating disorder, according to The Western Star, is a mental health issue and mainly affects people between the ages of 12 and 24, with women comprising about 80 percent of sufferers.
Lamb only weighs approximately 70 pounds and has been on leave for four years from working as a massage therapist.
“I have anorexia and bulimia,” she said. “With that came a lot of other physical and mental problems. It's so important that mental health, eating disorders, these things are all as painful and cause as much internal damage. Look at my liver, all these things, it's not OK. I can't see the ribs in my back right now. For some reason that was a pride for me that you could see that. There need to be the right people at the front line to help.”
Pro-life groups are calling for a boycott of the Girls Scouts’ annual cookie drive over the Girl Scouts USA’s support for abortion-rights advocates.
According to The New American, the groups supporting the boycott include the Pro-Life Action League, American Life League, the Radiance Foundation, LifeNews, Operation Rescue, the National Black Pro-Life Union, Life Coalition International, Texas-based Pro-Life Waco, Glendale, and California-based Shield of Roses.
“While some local troops' activities may be wholesome, sadly, Girl Scouts USA promotes radically anti-life women, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, as role models, regularly partners with pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood for 'educational' activities, and encourages girls to fight for abortion on demand,” said Pro-Life Wisconsin in a newsletter to supporters of the so-called CookieCott 2014.
The groups were angry over a tweet that linked to a recent Huffington Post panel discussion recognizing Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who became well-known last year for a filibuster of abortion restrictions, as one of the most influential women of 2013.
— Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) December 18, 2013
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, another Democrat who supports abortion rights, was also mentioned as an influential woman in a Washington Post article linked to by the Girl Scouts organization.
“It’s very clear that they are not citing any pro-life leaders with any praise, even though their official stand is they are not taking any position on abortion,” said John Pisciotta, director of Pro-Life Waco and boycott organizer.
Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi says the organization does not endorse politicians or take stands on political issues. She says the posts were meant to get people involved in discussing top newsmakers of 2013.
In a statement, the national Girl Scouts organization says it "does not advocate one way or another with regard to what we perceive as private issues best handled by families. Personal matters are just that – personal and private – and should be addressed accordingly."
In 2004, Pisciotta organized a cookie boycott in Waco after the leader of the local Planned Parenthood chapter was honored by the local Girl Scouts council for her achievements, according to the Associated Press.
“It does fire up people who are against what we do, or what they think we do,” said Girl Scouts of Central Texas spokeswoman, Lucia Weinmeister, who claims the boycott of 2004 gave the council its best year for cookie sales. “It also fires up our strongest supporters.”
A man on phencyclidine (PCP), a drug that can cause hallucinations, attempted to swallow his cellphone.
The Internal and Emergency Medicine journal reports that the 35-year-old patient attempted to consume his 4 cm x 8 cm device in response to “auditory hallucinations.” When the man arrived at the emergency room, the phone could be seen sticking out from his throat. Physicians noted that he was breathing very quickly in his agitation; he had 24 respirations per minute while a healthy adult will take about 12 to 16 breaths per minute.
Doctors tried to get the phone out with forceps, but were unsuccessful. A surgical specialist and an anesthesiologist were brought in and the patient was taken to an operating room.
“The patient was emergently transported to the OR and ‘double prepped’ for both emergent cricothyrotomy and oropharyngeal intubation,” the case study authors wrote. “The device was successfully removed under procedural sedation without the need for surgical intervention.”
A tear was noted at the back of the patient’s throat, but he was treated for seven days and discharged from the hospital after two weeks.
It’s not the first time a person on PCP has downed a foreign object. In 2012, a New Jersey man under the influence of the drug bit off and swallowed his own finger at a Hudson County jail.