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When it comes to living a normal life, the majority of us are pretty lucky. Granted, when a new baby is born, there is a running joke of checking whether the baby has ten fingers and ten toes, but the joke exists for good reason. While the odds of being born with a genetic condition is pretty rare, the statistics are still high enough to where it is possible that something in our genetic makeup could make the perfect recipe for a birth defect. Now, if you were born with an extra body limb in the 19th and early 20th centuries, chances are that you lived your life as an entertainer in the freak show world, as it would have been near impossible to live a normal life when you don’t look like everyone else around you.
Today, advances in medical practices have made it so if you’re born with an extra finger, limb, etc., the issue can be fixed with surgery. But sometimes, the problem can’t be fixed because either the procedure would be too complicated and possibly result in death, or the person wants to wear their extra body part with pride and bring awareness to the rest of the world. For example, major league baseball pitcher Antonio Alfonseca proved that it was possible to make your dreams come true despite being different. He had six fingers and six toes on each limb, and still ended up playing major league baseball. Many people who suffer from these conditions are still able to live normal lives. A boy in China was born with 15 fingers and 16 toes, and had to get surgery to remove the extra digits due to the fact that he couldn’t function normally with the abnormalities.
Of course, if a deformity is affecting someone’s quality of life, then something needs to be done, especially if a premature death is pending. Take Lakshmi Tatma for example, who was born with eight limbs as the result of having a conjoined twin attached to her. The village she was born in in India regarded her as a goddess and worshipped her, even though she wasn’t able to walk, stand, or sit. Her family began to raise money to get surgery done to remove the extra limbs after her doctor revealed that she wouldn’t be able to survive into adulthood with her condition. A hospital in Bangalore ended up donating the surgery to Lakshmi’s family. After numerous plastic surgeries to rebuild her body, Lakshmi is living a normal life.
Some of these stories don’t have happy endings, such as the story of Naglaa Mohamed, who gave birth to conjoined twins. Except, her baby girl, named Manar, had a functional body while the other twin, named Islaam, was underdeveloped and just a head. After complex surgery, doctors were able to detach Islaam (who died shortly after) from Manar. But Manar wouldn’t live to see the age of two due to a brain infection.
Should you ever be fortunate to meet someone with an extra body part, chances are that they have a pretty incredible story to tell.