Most of us forget just how lucky we are. We were born relatively healthy, enjoy many freedoms that most of the world doesn’t get to enjoy, have access to health care and top-notch technology and shelter and food… most of us are pretty damn fortunate, when you get down to it. We forget to be grateful for the fact that we have warm homes, safe families, endless possibilities, vast opportunity, and, of course, our own health.
People are generally never grateful enough for their good health until they’ve lost it. It’s only when people suffer heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and serious disabilities that they reminisce about the days when they were young and fit and healthy. Even those people should count their blessings because most of them at least got to enjoy a large portion of their lives in the vision of perfect health. Some of us aren’t even afforded that much.
Today, we’d like to talk about the unlucky few who have never known what it is to be in perfect health: those whose disabilities and maladies don’t hide beneath the surface, waiting to strike, but loudly announce their presence to the world and those who frankly inspire fear, disgust, and anxiety in the hearts of those around them. They’ve never done anything to deserve such cold treatment from other humans — they were just born that way. So warm your heart and give these poor, lonely people some loving. Here are fifteen adults who were born creatures:
17. Wang Fang, The Backwards Lady
Wang Fang is a fairly cheery person, given what she must put up with every day. As you can see from her picture above, Wang’s primary struggle is that she was born with her feet facing the wrong way. Though you’d expect that this odd deformation would keep her limited to a chair of sorts most of the time, you’d be guessing wrong. Wang is actually pretty skilled, given her circumstances. Even the doctors that brought Wang into this world expected she’d never be able to truly walk properly. The Chinese woman was born this way, with her knees facing forwards and feet facing back. Now at age 27, she’s actually a runner… a good runner. She beats most of her friends in foot races! She’s also a waitress, which means she’s walking on those backward feet all day, every day. She has a son, too (with normal feet, to boot), so Wang stays very busy despite her so-called “limitations.”
16. Chandra Wisnu, The Bubble-Skinned Man
Maybe he’s not exactly the most attractive guy to look at, but you can’t really deny that there’s some sort of magnetism when looking at him. You can’t really look away!
Chandra Wisnu is an Indonesian man who refuses to look in the mirror due to his horrifying skin condition, which causes bubble-like benign tumors to burst forth from his skin. A Maryland doctor thinks that Chandra has a severe case of Neurofibromatosis, a tumor disorder that’s caused by irregular genes. And Chandra is far from being the lone sufferer of this abnormality; it apparently affects at least one in every 2,500 people! Apparently, the tumors aren’t remarkably painful, but they’re insanely itchy, and nothing can be done to stop the itch except occasionally putting cigarettes out on the itchy spots (obviously, not a good treatment). Hopefully, Chandra finds some relief from a lifetime of itchy tumors very soon!
15. Duangjay Samaksamam and the World’s Largest Hand
There are some world records that are probably fun to hold — like fastest jump-roper, best Guitar Hero player, or owner of most puppies in the world. Having the world’s largest hands might sound cool to some guys, too (you know what they say about having big hands)… but we think that Duangjay Samaksamam would gladly relinquish her world record title if she could have average-sized hands. The Thai woman was born with a disorder called Macrodystrophia lipomatosa, which triggers the body to store massive amounts of fat in odd places, such as Duangjay’s hands and arms. She suffers from an incredible amount of pain from the disorder, as you can imagine, and doctors, unfortunately, have told her (after years of attempting to treat the disorder) that the only way to mitigate the pain is to cut her hands off. But she has so far refused to go handless and keeps getting by each day with a lot of pain and really big high fives.
14. Rudy Santos, Octoman
Doctor Octopus was one of the coolest villains of the Spider-Man franchise; even if he wasn’t portrayed very well in the movies, he was iconic to the comic brook franchise. How cool would that be to have eight limbs at your disposal?!
As a matter of fact, not very cool — kind of gross and very worrisome, actually, as we learned from Rudy Santos. The Filipino man had a parasite twin while he was in utero; this means that both twins never fully separated from each other while they were in fetal stages, and while baby Rudy thrived, his twin couldn’t get the nutrients he needed to separate and thusly clung to him for life. Rudy has an extra leg and two extra arms (including a shoulder and even a nipple) protruding from his abdomen where his twin attached. Under his shirt, there are parts of an undeveloped head, including an ear and hair. While doctors believe they could sever the extra limbs, Rudy has decided to keep them as he’s become accustomed to them. Really… he kind of looks like a walking horror film with someone climbing out of his body…
13. Dede Koswara, Tree Man
What if Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy were a real person? We would all go crazy trying to meet that little tree and getting him to dance with us.
Well, Groot isn’t real (sorry to burst your bubble), but we had something very close for a while! In Indonesia, there was once a man named Dede Koswara who had an unfortunate condition from birth. He suffered from a very rare condition that forced him to suffer through odd wart-type growths on his body, only these warts would grow long and gnarled and come to look like tree bark (thus the nickname). The disease grew all over his body and eventually engulfed much of him, including his hands. He was prevented from doing the work he loved in carpentry and constantly searched for a cure — though he didn’t receive one in time. Dede died just last year after battling the condition his whole life.
12. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Aceves, Wolf Man
After the atrocity of The Twilight Saga, people have been enamored with the sex appeal not only of the fictional vampire but also of the mythical werewolf — men who are sexy, lean, and handsome guys by day but vicious pack hunters by the light of a full moon. Well, werewolves sound sexy in theory, but Jesus Aceves is living proof that maybe it wouldn’t be so sexy after all.
Jesus suffers from a condition called hypertrichosis, which makes him a very hairy guy. His sister and two children have also inherited the genetic condition, and together, they’re just one furry family. He’s been featured in books like Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and Guinness World Records, and he even performs as a sideshow in the UK’s Circus of Horrors. In all reality, however, Jesus is a really chill guy just looking to live a comfortable life with his soft and fuzzy little family.
11. Huang Chuncai, The Chinese Elephant Man
While some people complain about having a perpetual resting “bee-otch” face, no one’s got anything on Huang Chuncai, who has a permanent resting saggy sad face.
Huang is commonly known in the media as the “Chinese Elephant Man.” (Don’t know who the original Elephant Man is? Good, because you’ll be seeing him on the list soon enough!) He was born with neurofibromatosis — a disorder that you’ve seen many times on this list before — that has caused large tumors on his face to utterly distort his human appearance. Though his large tumors developed early in his life, his parents were unable to afford any procedures to remove them, and the surgeries would have been too dangerous anyways. By the time Huang was 31, his tumors weighed over 33 pounds. Fortunately, his dramatic case has attracted doctors who have begun a long process of surgically removing the tumors. Though Huang is looking a little bit better these days, he still has a long road ahead of him to be tumor-free.
10. Bree Walker – Lobster Hands
Given a disorder with a name like ectrodactyly, you can pretty much count on the fact that something is probably really weird with the lady. This is Bree Walker, a popular newswoman from California. Can’t figure out what’s different about Bree? That’s fair! She’s a very successful woman, journalist, and television personality. She’s got a gorgeous face, nice body, and shining personality. But she’s also got hands that would scare the jeepers out of anybody. Bree was born with a rare genetic condition that’s resulted in her failing to form distinct fingers in her hands as well as toes on her feet. She also deals with the partner problem of syndactyly, in which the fingers and toes that she has are fused together — not exactly pleasant to look at, but it certainly hasn’t stopped Bree from having a killer career in the radio industry as well as the television news industry. She’s constantly advocating for rights and awareness of people like her.
9. Chinese Man and His Pointy Teeth
Though we hate to label this man simply by his race, we don’t really have much of a choice since we can’t seem to find his name anywhere! This Chinese man, who lives in rural China, wasn’t exactly born like this but had a disorder from birth that caused his teeth and mouth to develop in this manner. He claims that when he was a young boy, he was wandering the countryside alone when he encountered a wolf. The wolf seemed very threatening, but all he did was approach the young boy and lick his face. Everything seemed to be fine until, over time, the boy noticed his lips receding and his mouth seeming to take over the lower half of his face. Observers believe that this man has an unfortunate genetic condition, but he’s received no official diagnosis as he’s a poor Chinese countryman who doesn’t have the resources nor time to travel for medical help.
8. Bradford Cox, Marfan Syndrome
Bradford Cox may be one of the most famous people to have made this list. He’s a songwriter and musician best known for his work with the indie rock band Deerhunter (though he also has plenty of solo work out there under the name “Atlas Sound”). He also acted in Dallas Buyer’s Club and it’s very possible he’s got even more of a famous future ahead of him. But why is he on this list? Because of his case of Marfan’s syndrome.
The genetic condition affects connective tissues. What that means is that, essentially, Bradford and others like him are long almost everywhere; they’re incredibly tall with long limbs and long fingers, frequently with flexible joints and scoliosis. It gets really dangerous when you get into the organ problems it can cause with the heart and lungs. Luckily, Bradford seems to fare pretty well — even if he does have a unique look that’s all his own.
7. Simon Metz, a Regular Circus Freak
You had to know that we’d have some actual circus freaks in here at some point. The circus industry always thrived on genetic malformations and deformities for their benefit. For centuries, people born with noticeable disabilities have been entertaining side shows. In a way, this is very heartbreaking; it’s not cool to mock someone for their disability just because they look different from you. But at the same time, these people were profiting off the ignorance of others! They were able to just stand around, looking the way they naturally did, and have people pay big money to see them. In a way, that’s impressive — even empowering.
The man in the picture is Simon Metz, also known as Schlitzie, who was born with microcephaly — a neurodevelopmental disorder that leaves people with unusually small brains, skulls, and statures. Life expectancy for people with the disorder is always shorter than that of the average person, but Simon did a damn good job of profiting on his time here on Earth by working for Barnum & Bailey.
6. Mandy Sellars and Her Thunder Thighs
If you’ve ever been self-conscious about your weight, take solace in the fact that at least you’re not Mandy Sellars. Mandy is not morbidly obese because she lives a sedentary lifestyle or because she really likes cheeseburgers; she’s overweight because of a disease she had at birth. When born, she had legs and feet that were five times the normal size due to a condition that doctors believe is associated with an abnormality in the gene that controls the skin, bone, fat, and tissue. Her legs, at the peak of their horrifying growth, weighed 17 stone: in the United States terms of measurement, that’s 238 pounds! They had to amputate half of one of her legs after contracting septicemia, but it shockingly started to grow back. Now, Mandy is on a new experimental drug that not only seems to be stopping the growth of her legs, which she says “are taking over her life,” but is also shrinking them. We’ll see if Mandy has to live with these thunder thighs much longer.
5. Johnny Eck, The Amazing Half-Boy
Nothing’s really wrong with Johnny, or is there? He seems like a stand-up kind of gentleman, sitting on an old-timey car. As a matter of fact, the only one who looks like a “thing” or “creature” in this picture is the older person standing by the car door. Well, take a closer look. Johnny isn’t sitting on the hood of that car. He’s propped up there because he doesn’t have any legs to stand on.
The freak show act turned performer (who starred in several of the old Tarzan films) was named Johnny Eck, and he was a downright stunning man. He had great manners and many talents to speak of, including his powers of attraction with the ladies. Unfortunately, he was born without anything below the waistline to use to his advantage. “The Amazing Half Boy” was never discouraged by his disabilities, however; hell, he made a better living than many full-bodied men. He earned money as a performer, actor, musician, artist, photographer, illusionist, and business owner.
4. Alamjan Nematilaev, a Paternal Mother
Alamjan Nematilaev has another interesting story involving mistakes in utero. Alamjan is in his twenties now, but he grew up not knowing that something very strange was happening inside of him. The boy complained, when he was seven years old, that he felt like he could feel something moving inside of him. Since he had slowly gained significant weight throughout most of his life and his belly looked flat-out distended at the time, his parents took him to doctors. When they operated, the surgeons found what is pictured above inside of him — his twin that had been growing inside of him since birth. The baby had a head, some hair, and some teeth to speak of. The parents blamed the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster for the freak incident, but it honestly could have happened to anyone. Any one parasitic twin unable to separate may become entirely enveloped by the thriving baby — it happens often, but usually not in such a way that it “impregnates” the first.
3. Minh Anh, Fish Boy
First of all, we’d like to publicly shame whoever came up with calling this kid “fish boy.” Yes, people may look different and have strange conditions and even be what you would think of as weird, but to bully an orphan and call him hurtful names? What’s wrong with you?
Minh Anh is not a strange boy, just one that has been outcast after all his trials. The Vietnamese boy was orphaned and has been living in a special ward of a hospital where he’s treated for his odd skin condition that causes his skin to harden and flake, making him look like he has fish scales. It’s believed he has to live in the hospital until he dies. However, the boy takes solace in the comfort of a British woman named Brenda Smith who visits him at least once a year every year and treats him like a long-lost son of her own. Minh is older now, still living at the hospital and eagerly awaiting visits from Brenda.
2. Twinkle Dwivedi, Crying Blood
Yeesh. There have been some scary and creepy things on this list, but Twinkle Dwivedi may just be taking the cake when it comes to horrific disorders.
Twinkle has one of the rarest, most off-putting, and interesting physical disorders in the world. She’s one of only three total people who “cry blood.” Doctors have evaluated her many times but struggle to find out just why this has happened to her or how to stop it. The young Indian girl doesn’t always have to be actively crying to initiate the downpour of blood from her eyes; apparently, her disorder has something to do with a surplus of blood in her body that occasionally leaks from her eyes and sometimes also when she sweats from her sweat glands. There are plenty of theories on what’s up with Twinkle, but no solid answers, even as she’s entering her 20s — proving yet again that each human body is very different.
1. Joseph Merrick, Elephant Man
On to our final man on the list and undoubtedly the most famous of them all: Joseph Merrick, aka The Elephant Man. This case is so irrefutably famous that it’s had movies and plays written about it. (The most recent Broadway revival of the play had Bradley Cooper in the role of Merrick). During his life in the late 1800s, his deformities were not researched, and he was instead made the object of pointing fingers and jeers. His deformities are thought to be a combination of dermatolysis (which is the loosening of skin) and pachydermatocele (a connective tissue disorder), along with a few discernible bone disorders. His story is a sad and tragic one, as John apparently had a very high intellect and interest in higher pursuits, but people observing his maladies assumed he was an imbecile and barbarian. His death came through a complex combination of asphyxia and a broken neck, possibly because Joseph attempted to sleep as normal people do. But the weight of his head was too heavy for him to ever sleep unless he was sitting up. It’s also speculated that Joseph intentionally did this as a form of suicide.