Blue skin, “chocolate-colored” blood -- these are the things that define the infamous blue-skinned family of Kentucky, the Fugates, whose existence was actually shockingly real.
ABC News, a trusted source for breaking news, analysis, exclusive interviews, headlines, and videos, reported that the Fugate family was as surprising as surprising can get. According to records, Benjy’s blue skin greatly appalled doctors when he was born, during which he was described to have skin “bluer than Lake Louise.”
After examining his bloodline, it was revealed that he was descended from the Fugate family line, which began with Martin Fugate, who came to America in 1820, already blue with the recessive congenital gene methemoglobinemia.
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Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder that is caused by the hemoglobin being “unable to carry oxygen” in the blood, turning the blood “chocolate-colored” because it wasn’t oxidized. It also produced the blue color on the skin and can be passed down to the children of those affected.
Even if they did have blue skin and blood that is not oxidized, does this mean they were more susceptible to illnesses than regular people? ABC News clarifies that they weren’t, as the Fugate line lived well into their 80s and 90s without any blue skin-related health issues.
What’s more interesting is that every one of us has at least 1 percent of methemoglobin, but the difference with the Fugate line is that they carry anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of this gene, which is the reason for their blue skin. When scientists and modern medical professionals tried to explain how this has occurred, they found that the disorder spread among the original Fugates and their Combs, Smiths, Ritchies, and Stacy cousins due to in-breeding.
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This was the case because when Martine Fugate came to Troublesome Creek from France, he married Elizabeth Smith, also a carrier of the gene, so that four out of their seven children were blue.
Zachariah and Levy, the two blue sons of Martin and Elizabeth, then went on to marry their cousins as well, which resulted in a combined number of 21 children, most of whom probably also carry the gene.