Top 10 Shocking Medical Stories


The catalog of medical oddities, miraculous recoveries, open questions and unsolved mysteries is so complex and fascinating, that millions of books and articles have been written.

While oddities are not particularly desirable, miracles make us happy and strengthen our faith. Unfortunately, many medical mysteries remain unsolved. They are similar to an intriguing puzzle, but with most of the pieces missing. They make us realize how much we still need to learn about something we thought we knew so well: the human body. Here is my Top 10 list of medical shocking stories that are both captivating and unbelievable.

10. Polish Railroad Worker Wakes Up From 19-Year Coma


During the 1980’s, Poland was still run by a Communist regime. It was a terrible period of despair, great poverty and confusion.

Polish railway worker Jan Grzebski, suffered a severe head injury while attaching two train carriages. He was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors had even more devastating news for the family: besides the injuries caused by the work-related accident, Jan Grzebski was suffering from brain cancer. He fell into a deep coma of 19 years. Doctors didn’t expect him to live longer than three years. His family had faith that Jan would recover and his wife Gertruda provided the loving care Jan needed to survive. The amazing part of this story is that Mr. Grzebski awoke on April, 12, 2007 after 19 years of coma. He awoke to a world of democracy and capitalism. Mr. Grzebski was surprised to find out that 18 years had passed since the fall of Communism and that 11 grandchildren couldn’t wait to hug him. “What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to complain about.” This memorable statement is the perfect reminder to all of us who sometimes are complaining too much. Sadly, we often don’t appreciate the simple things in life until they’re taken away from us.

9. Children with the Werewolf Syndrome


Indian boy Prithviraj Patil and Thai girl Supatra Sasuphan have dreams and behave just like other children around the world: they love to be included in activities and games; they enjoy swimming or painting, and most of all, eating ice-cream. What makes them different is the fact that both children were born with congenital hypertrichosis, known also as the Werewolf Syndrome.

This terrible disease is very rare and unusual. There have been fewer than 50 cases documented since 1638. The children are suffering from uncontrollable hair growth. Thick animal-like fur covers their head and parts of the body. Unfortunately, science and medicine haven’t found an answer for their disease.

It’s so sad to read headlines such as “Half human, half wolf” or “Real Wolf Kids”. The cruelty doesn’t come from the syndrome, but from society…

8. Amazing Human Electrical Conductor

Some people attracted worldwide attention by claiming they can harness the power of electricity. Jose Rafael Marquez Ayala is one of them.  Puerto Rican Jose Ayala seems to be a human superconductor, because he can carry huge amounts of electrical current through his body. Jose withstood various strong electric shocks with absolutely no side effects. Moreover, he burns paper with his fingers.   Is his power real, or a hoax?  If it is real, it is certainly amazing!


7. Miraculous Recovery After a 47-Story Fall

47 Story Fall

According to the NY Daily News, the Moreno brothers, Alcides and Edgar, were working on a window-washing platform attached to a skyscraper on E. 66th St., New York, when the platform collapsed on December 7, 2007. The 16-foot-long aluminum swing to the roof failed. Alcides Moreno cheated death after falling from the 47th story of the building, but Edgar didn’t survive.

The doctors performed at least 16 surgeries, because Moreno broke his ribs, both legs and right arm, badly injuring the spine. The medical staff described the victim’s recovery as “miraculous” and “unprecedented.” Doctors predicted that Moreno’s recovery would be complete in one, two years.

6. Teen Survives 118 Days Without A Heart

D'zhana Simmons

D’zhana Simmons of South Carolina is literally a walking, talking, medical miracle. The brave teenager lived for about four months without a heart, as she awaited a new, functional heart to replace the damaged one. Simmons suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), meaning her weak and enlarged heart wasn’t pumping blood efficiently. The surgeons from the Miami Holtz Children’s Hospital performed an initial transplant on July 2, 2008, but the heart malfunctioned and had to be quickly removed. Meanwhile, D’zhana was kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device. “She essentially lived for 118 days without a heart, with her circulation supported only by two blood pumps,” said Dr. Ricci, Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.

5. A Life Without Pain

Gabby Gingras

Gabby Gingras is an energetic 9-year-old girl who is determined to be just like every other child around her. What makes her different from most of us, is a rare and extremely unusual disease known as CIPA – congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. There are only 100 documented cases of CIPA around the globe.

Gabby was born without the ability to feel pain, cold and heat. It might seem like an amazing gift, but actually it’s a devastating condition. Pain sensitivity is crucial, because pain works similar to a warning and defense mechanism. Gabby’s parents noticed something wasn’t right when their daughter was five months old. She was biting her fingers until they bled. Later on, the girl lost an eye and severely injured the other one due to excessive rubbing and scratching. Various measures have been taken to prevent these types of accidents. The desperate parents are doing their best under the difficult and challenging circumstances. Brave Gabby was the subject of a documentary. “A Life Without Pain” by Melody Gilbert.  It tells the powerful story of Gabby Gingras.

4. Allergic to H20

Aquagenic Urticaria

Whether it’s taking a hot bath, brushing your teeth, cleaning the house, or simply quenching your thirst, water is an essential part of our daily routine. We just cannot live without water! That is why it is a wonder to us that people can be allergic to water. Believe it or not, some people suffer from extremely rare physical forms of urticaria known as Aquagenic Urticaria and Aquagenic Pruritus – both of which are ‘allergic’ reactions to water. They are so unusual, that only about 30 or 40 cases are documented worldwide.

Ashleigh Morris (21, Australia) and Michaela Dutton (23, England) developed a one in 230 million skin disorder – Aquagenic Urticaria. If their skin comes in to contact with water, itchy red welts, lumps and blisters appear all over the body. Showering is a really painful experience for both of them. Michaela cannot drink water, coffee or tea, she cannot even eat fruits because they trigger the burning rash on the skin and make her throat swell up, but her body seems to tolerate Diet Coke. Ashleigh tries to avoid water as much as possible – she stopped doing sports and any other physical effort that makes her sweat. Aquagenic Urticaria is so extremely rare, that even doctors don’t fully understand the complex mechanism behind the bizarre skin disorder.

3. The Family That Couldn’t Sleep

Cheryl Dinges

FFI is the acronym of a fatal genetic sleep disorder called Fatal Familial Insomnia. Jay Schadler and Laura Viddy best describe the rare disease: “Those affected by FFI are forever trying and failing to fall asleep. The disease steals one’s sleep, mind and ultimately one’s life, and, before dying, one hovers for months in a twilight world.”

29-year-old Cheryl Dinges (left) is one of the members of a family that couldn’t sleep. Her family carries the gene for Fatal Familial Insomnia, such a rare condition that it is believed to affect only 40 families worldwide. Fatal Familial Insomnia killed their mother, grandfather and their uncle. Cheryl Dinges declined to be tested, even if her sister (right) didn’t inherit the mutation. FFI begins with mild twitching, panic attacks and insomnia. In time, patients start to hallucinate and insomnia becomes so severe that they totally lack the ability to sleep. Ultimately, patients develop dementia and, eventually, die. The mutated protein is called PrPSc. If only one of the parents has the mutated gene, there are 50% chances of inheriting and developing FFI.

2. Butterfly Children

Sarah and Joshua Thurmond

The sad story of Sarah and Joshua Thurmond started when doctors diagnosed them with Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), another rare genetic disorder that cause the skin to be extremely fragile. Erosions and blisters occur because the skin layers lack a fibrous protein that is responsible for anchoring filaments to underlying tissues.

Joshua suffers from one of the most severe types of EB, Epidermolysis bullosa dystrophica.  Unfortunately, his sister too, but she passed away on Oct. 8, 2009. The disease took her at the age of 20. According to medical studies, people born with EB have a life expectancy of about 30, maximum 40 years.

“Cotton Wool Babies”, “Crystal Skin Children” or “Butterfly Children” are the terms often used to describe the fragile condition of younger patients. Their skin is as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. The slightest rub can cause painful wounds. Brave Sarah and Joshua learned to live with extreme and constant pain. Special bandages help lessen the pain and prevent infections, but currently, there is no cure for EB. Even if these children will never know what it’s like to run, swim or jump.

1. Giving Birth to a Mummy

Zahra Aboutalib

Zahra Aboutalib, from Morocco, delivered a child she’d been carrying for almost half a century. This shocking yet fascinating story began in 1955 when Zahra went into labor. She was rushed to a hospital, but after watching a woman dying on the operation table during a Caesarean section, Zahra fled back in her small village outside Casablanca. After the pains were gone and the baby stopped kicking, Zahra considered him a “sleeping baby”. “Sleeping babies” are, according to Moroccan folk belief, babies that can live inside a woman’s womb to protect her honor.

When Zahra was 75, the excruciating pains occurred again. Doctors performed an ultrasound test and discovered that her “sleeping child” was actually an ectopic pregnancy. What is even more amazing is how Zahra survived and how the dead fetus was accepted by the body just like another organ. Generally, this doesn’t happen. If not discovered in time, the growing fetus will eventually strain and burst the organ that contains it. Under these circumstances, the mother has few surviving chances. After nearly five hours, the surgeons successfully removed Zahra’s calcified fetus.

Stone babies, lithopedions, are an extremely rare medical phenomenon. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, only 290 cases of stone babies have been documented.

by Timeea

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  1. Kevin John Braid on

    the sleep one, yea, go eat a gram or two of high qaulity cannabis oil, no way in hel they wouldnt be sleeping after that.

  2. Louis Alexandre Simard on

    “It’s so cruel to hear headlines like half human , half wolf or real wolf kids. The cruelty doesn’t come from the syndrome but from society”. Do I need to remember you that the as a headline to this post you wrote kid with werewolf syndrome instead of kid with hypertrichosis.

  3. Dennis Fegan on

    On July 2 2006 I had what I thought were a bad run of atonic seizures. My parents just happened to stop by that Sunday morning and realized something was terribly wrong with me. They called my neurologist and EMS.

    My last memory of that morning was being inside of the ambulance the next thing I knew I was in the ICU.

    The Vagus Nerve Stimulator was stopping my heart (asystole) every 3 minutes during the 30 second stimulation cycles. If my parents hadn’t happened to stop by that day I would have died and my death would have probably just been written off as a fatal seizure or SUDEP. No one would have ever suspected it was the vns that killed me.

    Once the ER doctor and my neurologist realized that the problem was cardiac and not seizures my neurologist had to ran to his office (the next building) to retrieve the equipment to deactivate the device. When the vns was turned off I regained a normal heart beat and have had no cardiac issues in the 6 years since.

    The device was implanted in 2000 and I had absolutely no problems until it nearly killed me in 2006.

    As of 6/29/2012 there are 1184 “reported” deaths and over 17,000 “reported” adverse events for approx. 70,000 registered vagus nerve simulators. Something is REALLY wrong with that picture.

    My story was told in Reader’s Digest and The British Medical Journal

    Reader’s Digest


  4. I’ve got a Bizarre illness for you: Prader-Willi Syndrome. A sufferer’s brain isn’t able to tell when they’re full from eating so if left to their own devce, they eat, constnatly. Without supervision, they can literally eat themselves to death.

    • Louis Alexandre Simard on

      Is that how you explain and justify your weight excess. Prader-Wili syndrome is an extremely rare genetic disorder. The symptoms are the result of 7 genes that were deleted from a paternal chromosome. Some of the characteristics of Prader-Wili syndrome are: low muscle tone, short stature, interrupted or incomplete sexual development, cognitive disabilities (learning disabilities, retardation, low IQ, etc), problem behaviors (add/adhd, aggressivity, introverted, depression, etc) , and chronic feelings of hunger leading to obesity.

      First if all you didn’t described the diseases correctly saying that’s its the brain that is unable to say when its full which would make it a neurological or psychological problem. Second you only stated the chronic hunger symptom leaving out some of the more severe symptoms. This seems to indicate that you are not a sufferer of this diseases and that like many people who are overweight these days self diagnosed a disease in order to defend yourself against others cruelty or in order to deresponsibilize yourself regarding your diet and or over eating.

      Please explain yourself or stop writing false statements about a very real and debilitating disease. If you are a sufferer I am sorry.

      • Would you kindly shut up? You know nothing about this person, they in no way claimed to have Prader Willi Syndrome. They are merely misinformed about what, exactly, it is.

  5. Amazing stories. Thank you. I’m especially interested in the people who have a facility for electricity. I’ve read a great many stories over the years about such people, and I seriously believe they deserve a list of their own. I was fascinated by the story of one English farmer who “grounds” himself by touching a metal pole before hugging his family.

  6. what happened to the brain cancer of the polish man that stood in coma for 19 years?

  7. I have never ever heard of stone babies before and I read a lot of stuff like this… Aewsome list. Congratulations

    • I didn’t hear about this case. Slavia Patjic’s abilities are amazing. Thanks for sharing this video!

  8. Interesting – but your information about aquagenic pruritus is “all wet” (pardon the pun). I don’t know about aquagenic urticaria, but I can tell you I know of about 1000 people who have aquagenic pruritus. We have a yahoogroup of fellow sufferers, and you can learn more on Wikipedia.

    PRURITUS means itching with NO hives or rash; URTICARIA refers to hives and redness. Aquagenic pruritus is NOT an allergy, but rather a symptom with many different causes. Yes, not enough is known about it, and people who suffer with it feel misunderstood and all alone. We are still waiting for someone to find out what’s going on with our bodies and what we can do about it.

    • Unfortunately, there’s little information on this topic. I was talking about 40 – 50 cases reported in the literature. Thanks for your comment and your interesting observations. Wishing you all the best!

  9. There was a guy from Arkansas that survived in a comatose state for almost twenty years as well. He finally “woke up” one day after being in a comatose state for almost twenty year. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember the guys name or know if he is still alive. He was still alive about 5 years ago. I am not sure what happened after that.

      • Here is a follow-up post about the guy from Arkansas that survived nearly 20 years in a comatose state before he “woke up”. This is what I remember for those interested. He was involved in a car wreck. There were two other people in the car with him. One died at the scene instantly. One survived without a scratch. He was the third person in the car. Bizarre.