Originally published August 7 2015
Woman goes to get tumor removed, discovers 'evil twin' lodged in her brain
by Amy Goodrich
(NaturalNews) Yamini Karanam, a 26-year-old Indiana University Ph.D. student, knew something was wrong when headaches wouldn't go away and simple conversations or reading articles became the most challenging missions of her day.
"The holiday ended in what she thought was sleep deprivation and exertion. But it ended in two weeks of just sleeping. Then came the headaches. Slips and misses at work followed. It took a while but it finally dawned upon her -- she couldn't understand what she read anymore!" reads her blog.
She went through a set of different doctors and specialists. After a while, they came with the revelation. A cyst or small tumor on the pineal gland, a tiny, pea-like structure in the center of the brain.
However, most neurologists and neurosurgeons across the country found the location of the tumor too dangerous for surgery, leaving her to grow sicker and sicker each day. While the tumor was growing, reading became impossible, pain became unbearable, and walking was unthinkable.
"But the men of science found no correlation between her suffering and the images," she wrote on her blog. "She thought they would take her problems and own them. But they don't and they didn't. There was frustration and anger. Most of all, there was self-doubt. When sanity is in question, the best of us lose ourselves to the answer."
Finally, she wrote: "Could you please put an end to it one way or the other?"
On the edge of desperation, Yamini Karanam eventually found a doctor who was willing to help her. Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, a Los Angles-based physician, known for the development of a non-invasive "keyhole" surgery for extracting brain tumors with a minimum of damage to brain tissue.
During surgery Dr. Hrayr Shahinian made the shocking discovery that the tumor was a teratoma, or an embryonic "evil twin," lodged in her brain, with hair, bone and teeth.
"This is my second one, and I've probably taken out 7,000 or 8,000 brain tumors," Shahinian said.
For modern medicine, the formation of a teratoma is still a rarity and some kind of a mystery. There exist numerous hypotheses on how this can happen. Some believe that it is a fetus in fetu, which means people absorb their underdeveloped embryonic twin while in utero.
Others say that there is no way these tumors are an embryo or twin. According to Dr. Cathy Burnweit, chief of pediatric surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, these tumors form when germ cells turn into specific cells that can form different types of tissue such as skin, muscle, teeth, bone and hair.
"Although these tumors can originate during embryonic development, they aren't embryos, and they are not a person's 'twin.' They arise from germ cells, which are the cells that go on to later develop into a person's gametes (such as sperm and eggs). At early states, germ cells have the ability to turn into any cell in the body," wrote Rachael Rettner for Live Science.
"The type of tumor that Karanam had occurs 'when a person's own germ cell multiplies abnormally and differentiates into various different, normal tissues, in an abnormal place,'" said Dr. Burnweit, as reported by Live Science. "It has many of the components that a normal body would have, but it is in no way a twin."
Luckily for Karanam, this extremely rare form of a tumor is almost always benign, meaning they don't spread throughout the body, and once they are removed, survival rates are very high and recovery shouldn't take too long according to Shahinian.
Teratomas may be a rarity, but this case in not the first to hit the news. Remember the British man, Gavin Hyatt, who "gave birth" to his twin when a tumor started to push its way out of his abdomen? Or not so long ago, Hong Kong doctors discovered two partially developed fetuses inside a baby's tummy.
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