Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are You a Combination of Two People, Wrapped Up Into One?

Imagine this. You’re a mother of three grown children and in desperate need of a kidney transplant. All three children are tested as potential donors, only the test results come back with something completely unexpected – Two of the children are genetically not yours.

You may be thinking, perhaps there was a mix up at the hospital… Twice?

Not at all – This is actually a real world case of medical rarity. Although the mother had conceived all three children, test results showed she was genetically not the mother of two of the children. So what gives?

In 2003, Dr Margot Kruskall of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that the mother in question was a Chimera, a physical mix of fraternal twin sisters.

So why did test results reveal two of the three children not hers? - Because genetically, they were her twin sister’s.

Because she was born a physical mix of fraternal twins, her ovaries somehow produced eggs belonging to both herself and her twin sister, who in reality, didn’t even exist. This resulted in one son sharing DNA with the mother, and two sons sharing DNA with their non-existing Aunt.

That’s pretty far out.

Imagine the overwhelming feeling one individual would have discovering they were actually a genetic combination of two people, with two distinct sets of DNA. I can just imagine some big fat-cat defense lawyer using this…
“Clearly, the DNA evidence proves my client’s innocence – The guilty culprit is the evil twin.”

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