The Inbred Appalachian Family With Blue Skin

bluefamilyA real-life blue-blooded family exists, ironically, in the impoverished hills of Kentucky. As they have mingled with the broader population, the number of blue children has dwindled, sadly. Via Daily Mail:

Dating back to the early 1800s, an isolated family in eastern Kentucky started producing children who were blue. As a result of a coincidental meeting of recessive genes, intermarriage and inbreeding, members of the Fugate family were born with a rare condition that made them visibly discoloured. Looking at the portrait, they appear to have been either Photoshopped, but science proves that the condition is in fact real.

It began when Martin Fugate, a French orphan, settled on the banks of eastern Kentucky’s Troublesome Creek to claim a land grant in the early 19th century. He married a red-haired American named Elizabeth Smith – who had a very pale complexion – and their union formed a genetic mutation that resulted in their descendants being born with blue skin.

Called methaemoglobinaemia (commonly known as met-H), the condition reduces the individual’s ability to carry oxygen in their blood. As a result, their blood is darker than the colour typically found running through people’s veins.

The family was first discovered in 1958 when one of the blue men, Luke Combs, who was a descendant of another branch of the Fugate family, took his white wife to the University of Kentucky Hospital and doctors paid more attention to him than his wife.

As eastern Kentucky has become vastly more populated than the early 19th century, and as more genes are married into the Fugate family tree, there were far fewer children born with the condition.

12 Comments on "The Inbred Appalachian Family With Blue Skin"

  1. Rex Vestri | Feb 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |

    They’re SMURFS!

  2. Calypso_1 | Feb 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

    Possibly the most interesting news to come out of Kentucky since they discovered eating squirrel brains may in fact cause Mad Squirrel Disease.

    • Many a morning I’ve stepped out into the Eastern Kentucky hills to shoot a mess of squirrels for a breakfast of cathead biscuits and squirrel gravy.

      You may suspect I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not.

      • Calypso_1 | Feb 22, 2012 at 12:18 am |

        No sir I would not, for I too am practiced in the ways of varminting, squirreling and such.

  3. Does this explain where the Hindu gods come from?

  4. Looking at the portrait, they appear to have been either Photoshopped
    OR what.

  5. Hey, look: if the absolute worst thing to come from inbred Appalachian families was blue skin, we’d have no real problems in this country.

  6. You know, I think Silver can actually cause this. Colloidal Silver overdose isn’t fatal but it can make you blue…It will go away once you stop but if you just keep doing it….

    • Elfhellion | Feb 23, 2012 at 12:06 am |

      Actually, the term ‘blue blood’ comes from royal families having used fine silver to store milk, etc., in, as well as for utensils. Over time, the silver got into their systems and they developed a blue hue. 

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