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Entries in Blue (2)

Thursday
Mar082012

Man With Blue Skin Looks for Genetic Connection to Kentucky's Fugates

Kerry Green pictured on far right. Courtesy Kerry Green(SEATTLE) -- Born in 1964, Kerry Green of Tulsa, Okla., was given little hope that he would live because of a malformed aorta.

But by 3-years-old and several heart surgeries later, Green was being described by doctors as a "miracle child," small for his age at 23 pounds, but a "real live wire."

What doctors didn't know then was that the boy had a more serious underlying condition, a rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia -- the same disorder that affected the Blue Fugates of Kentucky.

"I was picked on as a kid in elementary school because I am blue," said Green, who is now 46.  "I look dead.  My lips are purple and my fingernails and toes are dark."

Today, Green lives in Seattle and is disabled, but he said he believes finding a genetic connection to the Fugates may help him learn more about the father he never knew.

"I am positive my father had the condition -- they all told me," said Green.  "I did see one kind of blurry picture of him and you could almost see it.  He's got the pale look I do."

Raised by his grandparents, Green said he doesn't even know if his father is alive.  Bob Green, who would be 73, had been a long-haul truck driver with relatives who had migrated west from Tennessee.

One of Green's sister was put up for adoption and the whereabouts of two brothers are unknown.  His mother, meanwhile, wandered in and out of his life.

"I just want to know where I came from and to know that side of my family history," said Green.  "It's hard to describe and it's kind of weird not knowing where the condition of mine came from.  People have pointed out the Fugates to me before."

Seven generations of the Fugates lived in an isolated pocket of Appalachia, passing down a recessive gene that turned their skin blue through in-breeding.

In the 1980s and 1990s, they dispersed, and the family gene pool became much more diverse.  Other relatives, perhaps like Green's paternal relatives, scattered throughout Virginia and Arkansas.

Even today, "you almost never see a patient with it," said Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist from Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.  "It's a disease that one learns about in medical school and it's infrequent enough to be on every exam in hematology."

In the mildest form, methemoglobinemia causes no harm, and most of the Fugates lived well into their 80s.  But in Green's case, his body is starved of oxygen and every organ is affected.

Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder in which an abnormal amount of methemoglobin -- a form of hemoglobin -- is produced.  Methemoglobin cannot effectively release oxygen.

Hemoglobin is responsible for distributing oxygen to the body and without oxygen, the heart, brain and muscles can die.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

For Young Boys, Is Pink the New Blue?

Jupiterimages/Photos[dot]Com(NEW YORK) -- For generations the view has held strong that while girls must dress in pink to be girls, boys can't do anything with pink, lest they turn into girls.

It's the view that's determined the color scheme in many a kid's bedroom, clothes and toy closets, and that has held strong through decades of change.

But, in today's 21st century world, is that view changing?

"It's a big deal to see boys dressed in pink because, simply, it's not the cultural convention," gender expert, and author of the book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Dr. Lise Eliot, told ABC News. "But it's nothing hard-wired. Boys are not innately aversive to pink and girls and are not innately attracted to pink."

Boys may not be 'innately averse' to pink but what about their fathers, the generation of men who grew up in a not-so-open society, one in which blue was, without question, for boys. Is pink also "in" among these dads, fathers like Jobson-Larkin whose young son already clearly prefers pink?

ABC News gathered a panel of fathers with sons to see where the men raising this new generation of gender-neutral kids fell in the gender color war. The dad's sons had varying interests and preferences.

"My son is into trucks and yellow is his favorite color," one dad said.

"My son loves golf," said another.

"My son likes Tae Kwon Do," said a third. "He also loves everything pink and purple.”

For the dads who saw their sons bending the gender color lines, what was their true, gut reaction that first time their little one chose pink over blue?

"I verbally said, 'Is that the color you really want? Look at...there's some other colors,'" Gregory Jobson-Larkin recalled. "I really didn't know to handle it when it first happened."

"I really wanted him to choose a different color," he told the panel. "It was really a reflection of me to be honest, of my own struggle."

And what if, in a perfect world, the dads could choose whether their son grabs a pink shirt or a blue one?

"Pink shirt," one father replied immediately. "I'd want him to go to the one he was drawn to."

Even the fathers who firmly wanted their sons dressed in blue acknowledged that, in the end, it should be their son's decision to make.

"I'd prefer my child to choose blue," said one dad. "But if he wants to choose the pink shirt over the blue shirt, it's up to him."

"I follow my child's lead," another agreed. "So it's not really the point of what I like. It's the point of what my child likes."

Dr. Eliot says fathers like those on the ABC News panel opening up to non-gender based color choices is having an impact on this generation of children.

"We actually created the color scheme that we now define as gender based," Eliot said. “Kids learn that one color is ‘bad’ for them from adults."

ABC News went straight to the source, a group of 6 to 8-year-old boys, to see if they too worried about acceptance and teasing among their peers not-in-pink.

"I don't really believe in the 'girl colors boy colors' thing," said one boy in the group.

"I like pink. I also think the 'boy color, girl colors' is not fair," another agreed.

When the boys were asked to pick a shirt and try it on, two boys chose pink, and even made a point to bond over it, giving each other fist pumps in the air over their selection.

"I would never be worried about wearing pink to school," one said.

Despite their enthusiasm for pink, however, the boys showed that, just like their dads, there is still a limit in today's culture of how far "boys in pink" can go.

"I just wouldn't want to cross the line with a princess on the shirt," one boy said when asked about wearing a pink shirt featuring a princess on it to school.

"They would probably laugh at me and I would kind of be a little humiliated if that happened," he said of his classmates' reaction. "I just wouldn't want to go there with it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio