The Fugate family story began in 1975 when a child named Benjamin Stacy (Benjy) was born, and nurses and doctors were shocked and confused. Benjy does not have the dark red color of most other infants, but instead has a dark blue skin. Initially, the doctors were very concerned about the unusual skin color, so they called an ambulance to take Benjy from the local hospital to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, 187 km away.
After two days of examination, the doctors were unable to explain the reason why Benjy’s skin was blue. Thereafter, Benjy’s grandmother spoke up and was troubled by telling everyone the story of the Fugate family in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. At this time, Benjy’s father Alva Stacy also told the doctors: “My father’s grandmother, Luna, was a child of the Fugate family with blue skin”. It can be said that Benjy is the newest child of the Fugate family – a blue-skinned family from Kentucky, USA, they have lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky for the past 200 years.
The first member of the Fugate family in the United States was Martin Fugate, a French orphan and he lived in a house on the banks of the Troublesom River in the mountains of eastern Kentucky in 1820. He married a girl named Elizabeth Smith, it is said that Elizabeth’s face is very pale, like a species of mountain laurel (Mountain Laurel) blooming in the valley each spring.
Meanwhile, Martin has indigo blue skin. Neither of them knew, because of such skin color, both of them carried the rare recessive gene. Their combination made 4 out of 7 of their children born with unusual blue skin.
The Fugate family.
At that time, to avoid community discrimination against their blue children. The Fugate family lived in a secluded, roadless countryside in the eastern countryside of Kentucky, and the railroads didn’t even reach that part of the state until the early 1910s. As a result, many Members of the Fugate family began to marry each other and inherited her next generation skin color. Descendant of the Fugate family, Dennis Stacy said: “Because it is difficult to get out, they marry neighbors living nearby and their own family members.”
Benjy is descended from this family, his ancestor is Zachanah, son of Martin, who married his mother’s sister. This isolated habitat has allowed the green-skinned genes of the Fugate family to continue reproducing and gradually transform into the dominant gene. For the next 100 years, the Fugate family remained in a relatively isolated environment, gradually being accepted by other residents of the neighboring area. “They look like everyone else but are green,” said one resident.
However, in the early 1960s, some members of the Fugate family felt dissatisfied with their blue skin. Not only does this skin color make them look different, but at that time people also associate them with unusual events. At that time, two members of the Fugate family, Patrick and Rachel, went to Madison Cawein, a hematologist at the University of Kentucky Medical Clinic at that time.
“They were embarrassed by their blue skin,” Cawein recalls. Madison Cawein went to Troublesome Creek to learn about the stories of the Fugate Blue family. He built the pedigree of the blue-skinned family and determined that they were all descendants, often inheriting genetic genes from the Martin and Elizabeth couple. Using the results from the study of the Alaskan Eskimos and the Fugate family, Cawein could conclude that the Fugate family has a rare genetic condition that causes the blood methemoglobin (MetHb) to rise.
Methemoglobin is a hemoglobin hemoglobin in the form of metallicoprotein that transports oxygen, which has a light greenish-brown color in the blood. The red hemoglobin in the blood of most people is the majority and manifests itself in the skin, giving it a pink color. For the Fugate family, the very high density of methemoglobin blue in the blood causes their skin to turn green.
This phenomenon is the result of a recessive gene, so both parents of a child must have the recessive gene for blue skin will appear in their child. Therefore, without the isolation and inbreeding of the Fugate family, this disease would be extremely rare.
After a period of research, in 1980, Mr. Madison Cawein found a cure by injecting two Fugate family members, Patrick and Rachel. Unlike what we imagine, the best chemical that triggers the transformation of human methemoglobin into normal hemoglobin is methylene blue.
Minutes after members of the Fugate family were treated by Cawein and gave each person a blue dose of methylene, the blue color of the skin disappeared and turned pink.
They were delighted, but unfortunately, this effect was only temporary. The amount of blue methylene is eliminated from the body after going to the toilet. Therefore, Cawein gave them pills, which could be taken daily or when they wanted to appear in front of people normally without blue skin.
In the 1900s, the Fugates no longer had to marry their blood relatives, but instead looked for someone else at work and school. Over time, their blue skin also disappeared among descendants of the Fugate clan.
After Cawein published the Fugate family case in a medical journal, reporters began to ask for family interviews, but reporters always asked very personal and crude questions. a loss in the family history of inbreeding. Hollywood crews also tried to bring in cameras to make documentaries, but they met an angry, hungry guard dog and scared them out of the woods. Therefore, very few images of the Fugate family have been published.
Cawein died in 1985, but family photos and blood samples collected by him gave people a deeper understanding of the underlying diseases of the Fugate family.
What happened to Benjy?
Within a few months after Benjy was born, the boy’s skin color began to return to its normal color. By the time he was 7 years old, he had basically lost all of his blue color, which suggests that he could only have received one copy of the gene from his parents. Benjy’s blue color is probably inherited from his father’s grandmother Luna. Although Benjy and most of the descendants of the Fugate family have lost their present-day green, when they feel cold or angry, hidden complexions still emerge.