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Medical Mystery Part II: Blue-Skinned Fugates Still Alive Today

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Several weeks ago I wrote about the Blue-Skinned Fugates of Kentucky. While that was an interesting story, it was more historical in nature than current news. However, several individuals have come forward since that story was first released in the media–individuals who are still affected by the rare disease that causes blue skin.

According to the media reports about the Blue-Skinned Fugates, the genetic condition that affected this family is characterized by blue skin and is caused by the abnormal production of Methemoglobin, a form of hemoglobin. In Methemoglobinemia, the body cannot carry the oxygen and makes it difficult for unaffected hemoglobin to release oxygen to the body tissues, leading to blue tinged skin. Doctors claim that this is more of a medical history lesson and that they don't really see many people affected by the condition in modern times. However, at least one man still living today begs to differ.

Kerry Green says that he has been affected by the disease his entire life and that it has caused him severe medical problems. Most of the time, Methemoglobinemia is not very troublesome and many of the Fugates lived into their 80s. However, Kerry has suffered froma more severe case, he believes, that has resulted in his body being starved of oxygen. All of his organs have suffered, including his heart which was operated on when he was just 3-years-old. He also says that his skin is blue and looks similar to the pictures of the Fugates. Doctors were so intrigued by Green's condition that they flew him in to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston just to study him. Others have also come forward to say that they had relatives affected by Methemoglobinemia. Jennifer L. Adams Horsley of Hartford, IN, says that her mother-in-law, Amanda Susan Parker Horsley, was descended from the Fugates since her nail beds and lips were blue.