The Twins Who Share A Body Extraordinary People

Although they are two completely separate people, these accomplished teens share a body and have just two arms and legs between them.
Born in 1990, the girls have been brought up in a small, tightly knit community in Minnesota, almost completely protected from prying eyes and inquisitive stares.

To their friends and family, they are distinct people with very different personalities, needs, tastes and desires.
But to the outside world they are a medical mystery – particularly given the fact that they can do virtually all the same things as their friends, including playing the piano, riding a bike, swimming and playing softball. "Their personalities make them inspirational," says their mother Patty.

"They never give up; anything they want to do, they go out and do it." The medical world is keen to find out how two separate brains and nervous systems can work in such a perfectly co-ordinated way, but the twins and their family have always resisted non-essential medical tests.

"The family want to treat them as though they are just like everyone else," says Joy Westerdahl, the girls’ doctor, who admits that it is a mystery how their unique physiology functions.
As they enter adulthood, the twins are likely to leave the haven of their home town and face the wider world. In preparation for that time, they have taken part in this intimate documentary to show the world what it is like to be joined for life.
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The Tiniest Boy In Britain Extraordinary People

The story of two-year-old Alex Connerty, Britain’s only primordial dwarf. Alex was born with an extremely rare condition that has stunted his development and means that he will grow to be no taller than three feet. This film follows Alex and his family as they travel to the US to meet the world’s only expert in primordial dwarves, in the hope that he can tell them what their son’s future holds.

Between Ebola, ISIS, downed planes and racial unrest, it's been a year of sobering news.

But if you look harder, 2014 has had its share of inspiring stories as well.

A 13-year-old athlete who showed that girls can more than hold their own against boys. A woman whose dignified death gave us a lesson in how to live. A wheelchair-bound man whose illness helped inspire countless people around the world to dump ice water on their heads.

What stories got you talking in 2014?

In world that often seems wracked with conflict, we need stories like this to remind us of our common humanity and the intrinsic goodness of most people.

Check out the gallery above for a brief look at some of 2014's extraordinary people. Some performed little random acts of kindness. Others were just doing their jobs well. But all of them deserve recognition for making 2014 just a little bit better.
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Bamse Og Kylling [DR Serie for børn]

Vores produkter er i alverdens sjove motiver og materialer, og der er noget til enhver smag. Fælles for dem alle er dog at de er i top kvalitet. Her under finder du alt lige fra puslespil, dukker og hånddukker til service, figurer og meget mere. Ællings Fødselsdag: Bamse og Kylling forbereder Ællings fødselsdag – og de skal nok bestemme, hvad der skal ske! Først laver Bamse en farlig rutsjebane. Og så leger de vippe, sjipper og spiller bold i redningskransen. Men Ælling gør ikke, som de har tænkt sig. Ælling serverer fødselsdagskage, mens den prøver fødselsdagsoverraskelserne på sin helt egen måde. Bamse og Kylling finder skat:Bamse hjælper Kylling med at grave efter orm i den hårde jord. Men så foreslår Bamse, at de skal grave efter en rigtig skat i stedet. De finder et syltetøjsglas og en sølvkæde med et sølvhjerte i. Men hvem skal have skatten? Det er svært at blive enige om, så måske skulle de i stedet grave skatten ned på et hemmeligt sted, som kun de kender…
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The Real Sleeping Beauty Extraordinary People

Five’s acclaimed documentary strand continues with more absorbing programmes exploring remarkable tales of human experience. Coming soon is the story of American Sarah Scantlin, who fell into a coma in 1985 at the age of 18, after being run over by a drunk driver. Doctors declared that recovery was impossible, and for 20 years she slept, until in 2005 something incredible happened – Sarah spoke. Nobody who had been in a coma-like state for so long had ever started speaking again.

This film follows Sarah as she attempts to prove once more that she can achieve the impossible. Her goal is independence: to feed herself, stand and walk unassisted. It also captures Sarah’s loved ones as they come to terms with the guilt, sacrifice and loss that they suffered during the years that Sarah ‘disappeared’.

Also featured in the programme is English woman Shahna Thwaites, who fell into a coma after a car accident as she returned from a festival. Doctors told her parents that she would never recover and that they should consider withdrawing life support, but after 23 days she awoke – beginning a ten-year struggle for recovery.
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The Girl Who's Older Than Her Mother

Hayley Okines suffers from a rare disease called progeria which turns children old before they have reached their teens. — Courtesy ABC News
progeria which turns children old before they have reached their teens.
But now having celebrated her 14th birthday she has defied all odds and to celebrate has published her autobiography.
Like any other teenager the book, called Old Before my Time, details pop-star crushes and a dislike of school.  But it is also a moving insight into how a child copes with a disease which has resulted in Hayley having the body of a 105-year-old.

The book has been co-written with the help of her mother Kerry who contributed to some of the chapters.
She writes: “She definitely seemed much wiser and more inquisitive than other 20-month-old toddlers.”
Progeria takes its name from the Greek word “proeros” meaning prematurely old and involves a mutant protein called progerin that accelerates physical aging.
It ages the body at eight times the normal rate leaving Hayley with skin that is thin and papery and bones that are fragile.

Progeria patients normally die from heart attacks or strokes at an average age of 13.
“Mum says I am one in eight million because my condition is so rare,” Hayley says in her book.
Hayley, of Bexhill, East Sussex, turned 14 in December and is among 89 children in 32 countries living with progeria. Mum Kerry knew something was wrong when her baby wasn’t growing or putting on weight as quickly as other infants normally would. Her family was left devastated when she was diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
Hayley’s story was catapulted into the limelight after she starred in documentaries called The Girl who is Older than Her Mother and World’s Oldest Teenager: Extraordinary People.

In April last, she was told by a doctor that her hip bones were in danger of dislocating and she now has to wear an uncomfortable brace nearly 24-hours a day. But her family is hoping a breakthrough in science might help her live a long and better life than previous sufferers who have died of the disease.  Hayley said: “I feel like I have a future to plan. I think that maybe when I grow up, I will get married. Mum says it will have to be someone very special to see beyond my progeria.” — ABC News
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The Genius Sperm Bank - Documentary

He was a millionaire who dreamed of saving humanity using the sperm of geniuses. But what became of Robert Klark Graham's master plan?

In the late 1970s, in a underground bunker on his ranch near San Diego, American millionaire Robert Klark Graham set up the world's most controversial sperm bank known as the Repository for Germinal Choice.

Already famous as the inventor of the shatterproof spectacle lens, 70-year-old Graham was set to turn his hand to a much more infamous career.

He believed that "retrograde humans" were breeding unchecked. He wanted to reverse this trend by bringing thousands of geniuses into the world, fathered by the most brilliant minds. Single-handedly he dreamed of saving humanity using the sperm of clever men.


Graham wanted to recruit the choicest sperm he could find. He initially convinced three Nobel Laureates to donate, including the notorious racist William Shockley. But elderly sperm - albeit eminent - was not good for freezing, so he decided to cast the net wider.

While at a dinner party botany professor Jim Bidlack was asked by Graham if he would be willing to provide him with a specimen that very evening.

"We were getting close to the end of the evening, we had a conversation and somewhere during that conversation he said 'would you be willing to provide us with a specimen, do you think you are up to it?'," says Mr Bidlack.

He was and did.

The tycoon's controversial project was exposed to the world by LA Times journalist Edwin Chen. He stumbled across the story while interviewing a researcher at a zoo, contacted Graham and was invited over for an interview.

"There were a lot of questions, many of them pointed at this notion of a master race and that this is something that shouldn't be done, but he was very boastful," says Chen.

Slammed in the press and accused of being a eugenicist and Nazi, Graham went on the defensive. He said while the principles of what he was doing might not be popular, they were sound. He insisted he was just trying to take advantage of the possibilities of genetics. The women came flocking.


Seventeen-year-old ballerina Courtney Ramm, agrees. Also a product of the sperm bank, she says she finds most things easy.

"In school I think I was pretty much in the top. I never found anything too challenging as a child. Everything pretty much came easy for me. But I think intelligence is not only based on your genes, I think it's also about the environment you're brought up in."

But most of the sperm bank children still remain anonymous, so no one can test to see whether Graham's experiment to breed intelligent kids using clever sperm really did work or not.

Horizon: The Genius Sperm Bank will be broadcast on Thursday 15 June at 2100 BST on BBC Two.
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Treeman The Cure - Extraordinary People

An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor - and Vitamin A.

Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty "roots" began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident.
The welts spread across his body unchecked and soon he was left unable to carry out everyday household tasks.
Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been raising his two children - now in their late teens - in poverty, resigned to the fact that local doctors had no cure for his condition.
To make ends meet he even joined a local "freak show", parading in front of a paying audience alongside victims of other peculiar diseases.
Although supported by his extended family, he was often a target of abuse and ridicule in his rural fishing village.

But now an American dermatology expert who flew out to Dede's home village south of the capital Jakarta claims to have identified his condition, and proposed a treatment that could transform his life.
After testing samples of the lesions and Dede's blood, Dr Anthony Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually causes small warts to develop on sufferers.
Dede's problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.

The virus was therefore able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells", ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns" on his hands and feet.
Dede's counts of a key type of white blood cell are so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus.
But tests showed he did not, and it became clear that Dede's immune condition was something far rarer and more mysterious.

Warts aside, he had enjoyed remarkable good health throughout his life - which would not be expected of someone with a suppressed immune system - and neither his parents nor his siblings have shown signs of developing lesions.

"The likelihood of having his deficiency is less than one in a million," Dr Gaspari told the Telegraph.
Dr Gaspari, who became involved in the case through a Discovery Channel documentary, believes that Dede's condition can be largely cleared up by a daily doses of a synthetic form of Vitamin A, which has been shown to arrest the growth of warts in severe cases of HPV.
"He won't have a perfectly normal body but the warts should reduce in size to the point where he could use his hands," Dr Gaspari said.
"Over the course of three to six months the warts should be come smaller and fewer in number. He will be living a more normal life."
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The Baby With A New Face - Extraordinary People

Little Viet was born with one of the world’s rarest facial deformities: a cleft palate and bilateral facial clefts. In the bone on each side of his face the two-year old has a two-inch gap, which will increase as he grows. His condition does not just affect the way he looks; it makes him blind in both eyes too. If Viet doesn't have surgery now, he will not be able to speak or eat properly – ever.

This documentary is the story of one British medical team’s attempt to rebuild Viet’s face and offer him a future.Viet’s mother, Nho, has been desperate for something to be done ever since her son was born. Now she has found hope in the form of Niall Kirkpatrick, one of the world’s leading cranio-facial surgeons. For years Niall has been going to Vietnam to help children with facial disfigurements, but when he meets Viet, he decides that his case is so complex that he needs to bring him back to the UK for surgery.

We follow Viet and Nho as they travel from their small fishing village to London.As Niall and his team embark on a series of lengthy and extremely challenging operations on her son, Nho has to cope with homesickness, anxiety and deeply unfamiliar surroundings. But if the operations have the effect everyone hopes they will, it will transform both of their lives.

If he’s not operated on now he’ll never be able to speak or eat properly.Viet’s mother, Nho, has been desperate for something to be done ever since he was born. Now she has found hope inthe form of Niall Kirkpatrick, one of the world’s leading cranio-facial surgeons.For years the British surgeon has been going to Vietnam to help children with facial disfigurements but he decides Viet’s case is so complex, he needs to be flown to the UK for surgery.We follow Viet and Nho as they travel from their small fishing village to London. Click Here and Watch The Documentary
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