Understanding Fetus in Fetu:
The Phenomenon of the Parasitic Twin

The condition known as fetus in fetu or parasitic twin is one that has been known for quite some time. However, the case of Alamjan Nematilaev, a seven year old who was "pregnant" with his own twin, brought the condition to the public's eye.

This is an extremely rare condition that has only been verified around ninety times in the world thus far. In the case of Alamjan Nematilaev, movements were located in his abdomen, leading his doctors to believe that he had a severe cyst that needed to be removed. Upon going to work, though, the doctors discovered that instead of a cyst, the issue that was causing the boy's problems was essentially a fetus.

Alamjan Nematilaev's case is made even more extraordinary due tot he fact that the fetus had the rough configuration of a human being; it had a head, four limbs, hands, fingernails, hair and recognizable if misshapen face. In most cases, the fetus that resides in the person who has this condition is much more primitive and only marginally recognizable as being a human fetus. The fetuses that are found in these cases are always discovered to be without brains and incapable of living away from the person within whom they developed. This condition is a parasitic one, where the fetus needs the host to survive, giving rise to the more common name of parasitic twin.

How Does a Fetus in Fetu Develop?

The question of how a parasitic twin might develop is one that currently has no answer. One of the most popular theories on the phenomena states that's during gestation, one twin essentially absorbs the other in the womb. This happens very early in gestation, and though most experts agree that this action would prompt a miscarriage relatively early in the pregnancy, it is possible for the stronger twin to survive and to thrive, living their lives without knowledge of the fetus at all. It is entirely possible that the condition could go for years or even decades without being noticed, as it did in the case of one man who lived with the effects of a parasitic twin for more than thirty years.

Another competing theory states that the condition known as fetus in fetu is dramatically misnamed and contends that the tissue known as the fetus is not in fact a fetus at all, but a form of tumor. A teratoma, which might also be known as a dermoid cyst, is a sort of highly advanced tumor that can develop human skin, sweat glands, pores and hairs. Because of their unique nature, these tumors may also contain cartilage, eye tissue, organ cells and teeth. Some people find that it is entirely possible that teratomas can become advanced enough that they can even form primitive organ systems.

Are There Others With a Fetus in Fetu Alive Today?

Besides the case of Alamjan Nematilaev, who was mentioned above, there have been several other people who have carried a parasitic twin. Sanju Bhagat lived for his entire life being embarrassed by his protruding belly, which made him look pregnant. However, as it turned out, the massive growth that gave him a round, drooping belly and that restricted his breathing by sitting squarely on top of his diaphragm was actually a parasitic twin that was advanced enough that it had bones and fingernails. There was no placenta around the parasitic twin and it was instead connected directly to his blood supply.

In recent years, a very young child in China was found to have his own twin inside his body. He actually appeared to be pregnant with a huge protruding belly. Successful surgery was done to remove the parasitic twin.

In some cases, the fetus in fetu condition can be diagnosed even before birth, as in the case of a Chilean boy in Santiago, or a few months after the birth, as in the case of a two month old girl in Pakistan. In 2005, a two day old baby received an operation to remove a small abdominal mass and discovered a fetus the size of a fist inside him; this case of fetus in fetu is distinguished by being the first where movement of the parasitic twin has been documented via ultrasound.

In the case of Myrtle Crobin, who lived in Texas during the 1800's, the parasitic twin actually had poorly developed legs that protruded out from Myrtle's body. A truly strange and interesting case, she went on to live a pretty normal happy life and even had children of her own. She did work for several years in a sideshow starting at the young age of 13. Sideshows were very common at the time and Myrtle was a particularly popular phenomenon to see. When she finally retired from the show, many fakes and phonies appeared on the circuit to fill the void.

The phenomenon of fetus in fetu is extremely rare and it cannot be doubted that it holds a lot of fascination for many people.

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