‘Elephant Man’ Refuses to Hide From Facial Deformity

Friday, May 30, 2008
news.com.au

O’Neal, of Kirkland, Wash., said he knows his deformity is shocking — but he refuses to hide like other people with his disorder. 

[This is an awesome and heartwarming article I came across.  The admiration I have for this man is tops and I truly commend him for doing what he does as you will see if you click on the link to see the photo.  I must warn you it is quite a shocking picture and probably not for the faint of heart but the article that is included with the picture shows such compassion for someone who has not let his physical disease/appearance hinder him in anyway…flagranny2] 

James O’Neal compares himself to John Hurt’s character in the 1980 film “The Elephant Man.”

A genetic disease known as neurofibromatosis has left O’Neal’s face horribly disfigured, but several surgeries may be able to reconstruct his facial features.

Click here to see a photo of O’Neal.

Although it was at one time believed that Joseph Carey Merrick, the subject of the 1980 film, also suffered from neurofibromatosis, he actually suffered from Proteus syndrome, a congenital disorder that causes skin overgrowth and atypical bone development, often accompanied by tumors over half the body.

Gina Agiostratidou, a biologist and scientific program manager for the Children’s Tumor Foundation in New York, told FOXNews.com that there are three types of neurofibromatosis: NF1, NF2 and schwannomatosis.

All three are caused by deletions or mutations of certain genes. NF1, which is the type suffered by O’Neal, is characterized by large benign tumors that grow on the cranial nerves, face, brain and spinal cord. The disease occurs in about 1 out of every 3,000 births and is more prevalent than cystic fibrosis, according to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

NF2 is much rarer, occurring in 1 out of 25,000 births. It causes tumors to grow on the cranial and spinal nerves, as well as both auditory nerves. It often results in hearing loss beginning in the teens and 20’s.

Researchers know very little about schwannomatosis. It occurs in about 1 out of every 40,000 births and symptoms differ greatly among sufferers, according to the foundation.

O’Neal, of Kirkland, Wash., said he knows his deformity is shocking — but he refuses to hide like other people with his disorder.

“I just tell people this is who I am, it’s the way I am,” O’Neal told KOMONews.com. “If you don’t like me, you don’t like me.”

But O’Neal — who works as a cashier at Kingsgate Safeway — is well-liked by his customers.

In fact, his regular customers said O’Neal is an “inspiration” and they have started raising money for his surgeries, since insurance likely will not cover the full cost.

“He is an amazing man, and we love him,” said customer Aubrey Richins. “He’s the kind of person that makes your day.”

At the moment, there is no cure for neurofibromatosis, Agiostratidou said.

“There are so many different manifestations of the disease,” she explained. “Surgery is usually a last resort because it does affect the nerves and removing the tumor can create paralysis of the nerve. Currently, the treatment includes chemotherapy (and then) surgery, and we are working on clinical trials for different medications, but it is still very early for us.”

Contributing: Marrecca Fiore, FOXNews.com health editor

 

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F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals Is Safe

To clone or not to clone, that is the question.  It takes on a whole new meaning to Wendy’s  “Where’s the beef”
The calf Priscilla was cloned by ViaGen from a slab of beef.
Published: January 16, 2008

After years of debate, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday declared that food from cloned animals and their progeny is safe to eat, clearing the way for milk and meat derived from genetic copies of prized dairy cows, steers and hogs to be sold at the grocery store. 

The decision was hailed by cloning companies and some farmers, who have been pushing for government approval in hopes of turning cloning into a routine agricultural tool. Because clones are costly, it is their offspring that are most likely to be used for producing milk, hamburgers or pork chops, while the clones themselves are reserved for breeding.

“This is a huge milestone,” said Mark Walton, president of ViaGen, a leading livestock cloning company in Austin, Tex.

Farmers had long observed a voluntary moratorium on the sale of clones and their offspring into the food supply. The F.D.A. on Tuesday effectively lifted that for clone offspring. But another government agency, the Agriculture Department, asked farmers to continue withholding clones themselves from the food supply, saying the department wanted time to allay concerns among retailers and overseas trading partners.

“We are very cognizant we have a global environment as it pertains to movement of agricultural products,” said Bruce I. Knight, under secretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs. He said it was his goal to have the transition last months, not years.

Animal breeding takes time, so even with Tuesday’s actions, it is likely to be several years before products from the offspring of clones are at the grocery store in appreciable quantity.

Further down in the article Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut expressed this proposal:

However, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, has introduced legislation to require labels on cloned products, and consumer groups suggested that labeling would be a battleground in the near future.

[For the complete article – continue here] [Share Your Thoughts]

I would be interested in your comments as well.

From this article it is obvious that the food industry isn’t ready to immediately jump in the water without concerns but do feel comfortable that we will see cloning in the not to far future as the alternative way of producing and supplying dairy and meat products. I personally don’t think this is something I could commit to especially and hopefully will require all that is cloned to be labeled as such as given a choice I personally would not choose the cloned product…..flagranny2