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Human Chimera: What Is and How Does It Happen?

What if you found out that you have a living ghost sibling inside of you and your ghost sibling is the biological parent of your children? Don’t be scared; it only means you two people living in a single body.

If you are familiar with the Hollywood movie tilted the chronicle of Narnia, you must remember the half goat half man creature called Mr. Tumnus. That goat-man creature is only one of the many fictional animals with mixed DNA, and we might feel it is logical to tag his existence a product of creative imagination.

In Greek mythology, there is a tale of a terrifying fire-breathing creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon. The animal was called a Chimera, and it terrorized the inhabitants of a city called Lycia.

Iobates was the king of Lycia, and he decided to find a solution to the terror attacks from the Chimera, so he called on the hero Bellerophon to kill the creature. King Iobates, however, had an ulterior motive; His daughter’s husband wanted the death of Bellerophon, and the king was confident that the Chimera would help to achieve this.

Bellerophon went to battle with the Chimera and called in his trusted flying horse Pegasus. With the help of Pegasus, Bellerophon was able to slay the beast from above, and that was how he saved the people of Lycia. Quite an interesting tale.

The curiosity of the human mind has led scientists to create Chimera animals by combining two different embryos of separate species of these animals. The result of this combination is a beast with two separate DNAs. Thus, it is not so rare to see Chimera cats, dogs, cow, and even horses.

In humans, Chimeras are interestingly not the handwork of some scientists trying to create mix breed humans. Human Chimeras happen naturally, and the diagnosis is usually an accidental one. Chimaeras can happen as a result of a bone marrow transplant which is usually a treatment for leukemia.

Cases of human chimerism are not so prevalent and most Human Chimeras do not even know that they are their twin. Unless they experience health issues that require a DNA testing which will reveal that they carry in themselves an extra DNA that is not for them, they may never find out.

The first discovery of a human Chimera was in the year 1953 in North England: A woman identified as “Mrs. McK“.

This Chimera Lady lived a healthy life and had no particular health challenges, but when she had reasons to donate blood, the screening technicians were amazed to find out that she had two varying blood types. Unbeknownst to her, she was a twin and her twin brother had died at the age of three.

The vanishing twin syndrome is a term used in referring to tetra gametic chimerism. In the case of the vanishing twin, a mother is pregnant with two fertilized embryos, but one dies in the early stage of pregnancy, and some of Its cells are absorbed into the surviving fetus.

This results in a situation of two people in one because the surviving child automatically has double DNA. Sometimes, there might be an accidental exchange of a few cells between twin siblings, but they both survive and live their lives as Chimeras without knowing.

Asides the first identified case of human chimerism, other human Chimeras have been discovered, and some of their stories have made headlines around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular detected Chimera cases.

Karen Keegan was a 52yr old teacher in Boston, Massachusetts, who was in dire need of a kidney transplant, but she was told that neither of the children she bore was her biological children as there was no genetic match between her eldest two sons and her.

After another series of tests, her youngest son appeared to be a match, and this led to an uproar, and her doctor had to make an inquiry about the possibility of her being a human Chimera.

With help from other experts from the Harvard medical school and the American Red Cross, a series of tests were carried out on Karen Keegan, using samples from her hair and skin but no positive results were found. The doctors decided to take the search a little further by testing samples from some of her internal organs.

Karen Keegan had undergone surgery before the time of the research, and some of the specimens from her thyroid tissue and tissue got from her bladder were retrieved from a medical laboratory in the hospital where she had her surgery and a match was discovered between the DNA of her son’s and the samples.

After a few months of painstaking research, it was discovered that Karen Keegan was indeed a human Chimera and her dead twin’s cells that lived inside of her was the biological mother of her first two sons.

Another case similar to that of Karen Keegan is the case of one Lydia Kay Fairchild. Lydia was a 26yr old women with two kids and pregnant with the third. Her relationship with the father of her kids had hit rock bottom and they had a separation.

The 26yr old became a single month and had to struggle to take care of her children single-handedly. Upon discovery that she could not support her kids alone due to her unemployment, she decided to seek governmental help, and this was the turning point that changed her life forever.

One of the requirements for the application for government support was a DNA test from both parents to prove that they were biological mother and father of the children in their custody.

Fairchild went through DNA testing and was confident that the results would come out positive until she got a call from the Washington state prosecutor’s office in December 2002 and Lydia was not ready for the shocking revelation she was about to receive.

Fairchild was informed that the DNA testing had shown that her ex-lover was the father of the kids, but it appears no biological link proved she was the mother of her children and thus she was going to be investigated for welfare fraud. The father of her children was also accused of impregnating another woman.

Fairchild had to go through an embarrassing series of questioning which left her depressed and confused as she was sure she carried the pregnancy of all her kids and delivered them. None of the people dealing with Fairchild knew Chimerism, and it made it difficult for her to get a lawyer to fight for her as her claims made no sense.

The presiding judge requested that blood samples be taken at the birth of the child in Lydia’s womb for DNA testing and when that was done, there was still no proof that she was the biological mother of the baby.

The thought of her being a surrogate mother was not ruled out until DNA testing to prove a genetic link between Fairchild’s mother and the kids was conducted.

The results amazingly showed a biological link between Lydia’s mother and her grand Children and this finally made people give Fairchild a listening ear.

It was eventually discovered after Lydia had a cervical smear, that the DNA from the smear matched that of her children.

It appeared that Fairchild had the vanishing twin syndrome and her dead twin lived on in her ovaries, making the deceased twin the biological mother of her sister’s children. Fairchild was a Chimera and the accusations leveled against her were dropped.

In 2015, a man was discovered to not be the biological father of his son after a DNA test. It was initially suspected that it was an error from the fertility clinic where the mother had artificial insemination, but he found out that he was 25% related to his son and that makes him a biological uncle.

After a further inquiry into the situation, it was confirmed that he indeed was an uncle to his deceased twin brother’s son and he was his deceased twin brother. Confusing?

The man reportedly had different DNA in his sperm and his saliva. Thus, his brother’s DNA was responsible for the sperm that fathered his son. Testing his other children showed that they were biologically his. This means that the other kids are cousins to their brother and nephews to their own father.

The most interesting case of human chimerism yet is that of the American singing sensation and supermodel Taylor Muhl. According to Muhl, she had fantasized about being a twin several times before she discovered she was her own twin sister.

Taylor grew up with a strange birthmark that appeared to give her two different skin pigmentation and covered half of her tummy. A straight line divides these two different skin pigmentations interesting.

The singer experienced several health conditions and allergic reactions because she had two different immune systems.

Because her body recognized the presence of two uniquely different strands of DNA, it always tried to eliminate the one it considered foreign, and that explains the autoimmune diseases she has had to deal with over the years.

Taylor Muhl also mentioned having slightly larger organs on one side of her body, including a few more teeth on that side. However, the symptoms experienced by Chimeras are different making it difficult to identify a Chimera on a symptomatic basis.

Furthermore, studies show that chimerism can also happen with the natural single child pregnancy. Cells from a child could escape into the mother’s system and remain there temporarily or for the mother’s entire life. This kind of Chimerism is called a micro chimaera.

A test was carried on the bodies of some deceased mothers of boys, and Y chromosome cells were found in low concentration. This, however, makes it almost import to discover chimerism in mothers of female children.

About a total of a hundred cases of human Chimera has been recorded so far, but it is believed that there is a large percentage of the human Chimera population that is yet to be discovered or may never be found.

In animals, Chimerism appears on the outside almost in every case, but the only human Chimera that has been discovered to have physical traces of the conditions is the beautiful Taylor Muhl.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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