The human body is complex and patients sometimes develop conditions or cases that baffle medics. Despite the numerous advances made in the field of medicine, there are still cases that grab the attention of the world due to their rarity or mystery. Some of the surprising medical cases that made news in 2019 include:
Man who died after being licked by his dog: The case of 63-year-old man in Germany who got a rare bacterial infection after being licked by his dog died last month, sparking conversation among pet owners, including in Kenya, on the safety of the common practice of allowing pets to lick people.
Eleven family members die of mysterious disease: In May, a family in Londiani, Kenya, was reported to have lost 11 family members to a mysterious disease that would cause the victim have difficulty in speaking, poor eyesight, dizziness and memory loss. The general health of the victim then deteriorates before death.
Baby who was born pregnant and had to go through caesarean section: In March, a woman from Colombia delivered a baby who was “pregnant” with her own twin. The foetus had to be removed one day later through C-section because doctors feared it could grow and damage the baby’s organ. The foetus had no brain or heart. The condition is called fetus-in-fetu - a rare condition where a malformed fetous is found in the body of its twin. It happens in 1 in every 500,000 births.
A teen’s tumour that had teeth, hair and bones: This happened in India in September and it was another case of fetus-in-fetu. The 17-year-old had complained of stomach pain and when doctors felt a lump, they operated on it only to discover that it was remnants of her malformed twin that had been absorbed in her body.
Toddler whose limb suddenly fell off: In July, Abigael Wardle from UK witnessed her son’s leg fall off as she was changing his diaper in what doctors are now calling extreme case of sepsis resulting from a throat infection. Wardle from England says it started with flu like symptoms that became more serious. Doctors had to amputate all his limbs to save his life after putting him in an induced coma.
Boy born without a penis: In October, a baby in Turkey became one of the 80 cases recorded in history of a boy born without a penis. And no, it was not a girl as many people argued on social media. The condition called penile agenesis is rare and occurs in one in every 30 million cases. Doctors suggested surgery and reconstruction of a penis.
New Polio that confused doctors: In September, many people developed acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) that would cause a sudden inflammation of spinal tissue resulting in flaccid paralysis of the muscles of the limbs, neck, face and often diaphragm. It presented like a combination of meningitis, polio and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Increase of nodding disease: The deadly nodding disease predominant in East Africa, was reported to have risen this year. It is common in children and it presents as incessant nodding. The children also have stunted growth, unstable gait, and intellectual difficulties and can sometimes have blank facial expressions. A study in 2018 revealed that children with the nodding disease tend to have the same brain structure as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Boy with 526 teeth: In August, a 7-year-old boy who had pain in the jaw was found to have 526 teeth inside his mouth. Doctors in India performed the operation and found a sac in his lower jaw that had abnormal teeth. He had an extremely rare condition called compound composite odontoma.
Nandi sisters who enjoyed eating soap: Doctors diagnosed two sisters from Nandi with acute iron deficiency. They had an insatiable appetite for bathing and washing soap, and doctors revealed their bodies could not process iron.
The elephant man: Jerry DeVries has been called the “elephant man” due to proteus syndrome, a condition that causes abnormal growth of tissues in his body. The rare condition affects around 150 people in the world. Symptoms include overgrowth of cells and developing long limbs.
The man Who Got a face Transplant: In October, a 68 year old man in California became the first black man to undergo a full facial transplant. The medical success beamed hope on the possibility of people with disfigured faces from all over the world getting new faces.
The Belly that was brewing beer: There was a case of a man in the U.S whose body was brewing beer in his gut. His condition is known as auto-brewery syndrome where his body turned starch into ethanol.