My inbred ancestors turned blue – great granny Luna was bluest woman ever

A man shocked doctors in 1975 when he was born with blue skin, descending from an extraordinary inbred family with a history of discolouration.

Ben Stacy, 37, can trace his heritage back to an isolated family from Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, US who were unique due inbreeding which brought recessive genes together.

The Fugate family story started in 1820 when French orphan Martin Fugate and his wife Elizabeth Smart got together.

Martin had a very rare genetic defect called methemoglobinemia, which affects just 0.0035% of the population globally and means blood does not carry enough oxygen around the body.

This in turns blood brown, meaning that white patients' skin can turn blue and their lips purple.

When Martin and Elizabeth had seven children, four of them were born with blue skin due to the recessive gene methemoglobinemia.

As the gene was recessive the condition wouldn't have affected future children had they not married within their own family.

But as the family lived so isolated, the Fungates did not mix with other people and went on to marry their cousins.

They had families in the small community with the Combs, the Richies, the Smiths, and the Stacys.

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Zacharia, one of Martin and Elizabeth's children, bizarrely married his own aunt and another son married a close cousin.

Zacharia's son Levy would later marry their cousin too, producing Luna Fugate – once called ‘the bluest woman I ever saw’, reported ABC News.

Luna married a John Stacy and had 13 children – this is the line from which Ben comes.

According to the Daily Mail, Ben works as a water plant supervisor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, having gained a wildlife management degree from Eastern Kentucky University.

He reportedly has a wife called Katherine Stacy, and the couple share four children.

ABC News reports that the blue family of Kentucky started to disappear in the early 20th century as they moved apart and stopped interbreeding.

Still, Ben was born with blue skin, and although it soon faded his lips and fingernails still went blue when he became cold or angry as a kid.

The family's history was discovered in 1958 by Luke Combs after he took his wife to hospital and doctors ended up paying more attention to him.

"Luke was just as blue as Lake Louise on a cool summer day," Dr Charles H. Behlen II said in 1974.

The story attracted the interest of blood expert Dr Madison Cawein at the University of Kentucky who was fascinated with the family, reports the Daily Mirror.

In the 1960s, he set off to try and track them down and was able to meet some of the surviving Fugate family.

He said the family's blood was missing a key enzyme and believed if he injected them with the blue dye, methylene, it could make a difference.

Remarkably, within a few days the blue skin disappeared but it only lasted a couple of days.

However, Dr Cawein encouraged the family to take daily methylene tablets to help with their condition.

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