Monday, June 21, 2010

Boned-Up

Dan Aziere suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as multiple hereditary exostoses (MHE), or Osteochondroma, which causes benign tumors, made of bone and cartilage, to grow from the surface of his bones, resulting in more "bones" than the 206 most adults have. In Dan Aziere's case, approximately 50 more bones!

Aziere has had 19 surgeries to remove 42 bones since age five. He has extra bones in his leg, ankles, knees, hips, arms, wrists, back, chest, almost all of his fingers, and elsewhere. These bones range in size from about that of a pencil eraser to 4" long x 2" wide x 1" high. Dan's father also suffers from MHE, though his case is thankfully far milder. His late brother also had the condition and two of his three children have MHE. Luckily, neither child has suffered any problems from the disorder as of yet.

For Dan Aziere though, MHE has been debilitating. During an operation he underwent as a teenager, the doctor severed the sensory nerves in his leg, resulting in partial paralysis (foot drop) and a loss of feeling in the top of his leg. He has also battled with depression, though he says he had an epiphany one day which changed his attitude for the better, and he now strives to maintain that. "My motto in life is that things can always be worse," Dan Aziere told reporters.

Aziere's physician, Dr. John Dunleavy -- an orthopedic surgeon from the Danbury Orthopedic Associates in Danbury, CT -- said MHE affects 1-2 in 100,000 and that he has seen fewer than five cases over the last seven or eight years. Chele Zelina, president of the MHE Coalition in Ohio, said "1600 families in 57 countries... are registered with us as having MHE. Fourteen of those families live in Connecticut."

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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