Blue Skinned Family
February 24, 2012 by staff
Blue Skinned Family, A medical mystery lasting for over 150 years has been solved, and descendants are reaping the benefits of one doctor’s determination and fascination with a blue family. Cathy Trost has written a detailed account of the Fugate family’s skin coloring and notes that it wasn’t until Benjamin “Benjy” was born that doctors began investigating the cause of his blueness. “Doctors were so astonished…that they raced him by ambulance from the maternity ward in the hospital near Hazard to a medical clinic in Lexington.”
Ben Stacy is still alive, although he now has a more normal flesh tone. He quickly lost the blue hue and reports that only his nails and lips still turn purple when angry or upset. Stacy lives in Alaska with wife Katherine, and the couple has four children, none of whom carry the genetic marker that has made his family a legend.
In 1960, Dr. Madison Cawein began hearing stories of the Fugate family coloring and decided to investigate. What he found was plenty of stories with very few answers. He began by meeting members of the family, who were often so embarrassed they refused to talk to Cawein.
“After ruling out heart and lung disease, the doctor suspected methemoglobinemia, a rare hereditary blood disorder that results from excel levels of methemoglobin in the blood. It is the color of oxygen-depleted blood seen in the blue veins just below the skin,” wrote Trost.
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