Mystery of Blue-Skinned Family Solved

Filed in Health, Weird by on February 24, 2012 0 Comments

The ancestral line of the blue skinned family started in 1820, when an orphan named Martin Fugate settled at Troublesome Creek in eastern Kentucky. When Benjamin “Benjy” Stacy was born in 1975, his blue skin frightened doctors, but his grandmother suggested that he looked like the “blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek.”


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Doctors have since solved the mystery of the blue skinned family. The genetic condition that Benjy Stacy, descendent of the Fugate clan, had a rare genetic condition called methemoglobinemia. According to Dr. Ayalew, a hematologist, in methemoglobinemia, the hemoglobin is unable to carry oxygen and it also makes it difficult for unaffected hemoglobin to release oxygen effectively to body tissues. Patients’ lips are purple, the skin looks blue and the blood is “chocolate colored” because it is not oxygenated.

Doctors now know that the original French immigrant, Martin Fugate, carried the recessive gene- marrying Elizabeth Smith, another carrier of the blue-skinned gene. The pair had seven children, four of which were blue. Interestingly, the condition persisted among the blue-skinned family and their kin in the area due to inbreeding and lack of genetic diversity. As the blue-skinned family’s descendants began to filter out of Appalachia and into the world, the condition disappeared.




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