Kerry Green was a “blue baby,” born in 1964 in Tulsa, Okla., and his family was given little hope that he would live because of a malformed aorta.
But by 3 years old and several heart surgeries later, Green was being described by doctors as a “miracle child,” small for his age at 23 pounds, but a “real live wire.”
What doctors didn’t know then was that the boy had a more serious underlying condition, a rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia — the same disorder that affected the Blue Fugates of Kentucky.
“I was picked on as a kid in elementary school because I am blue,” said Green, who is now 46. “I look dead. My lips are purple and my fingernails and toes are dark.”
Today, Green lives in Seattle and is disabled, but he said he believes finding a genetic connection to the Fugates may help him learn more about the father he never knew.
The Fugates, Martin Fugate and Elizabeth Smith, shared a recessive gene that caused the hemoglobin – which is normally red – to be overrun by Methemoglobin – which is blue. This causes a blue skin color, especially on the lips and during cool weather.
Due to their geographic isolation, the family was known for inbreeding and the straight became more pronounced, even through the late 1900s.
Benjamin Stacy, born in 1975, is the last known descendant of the Fugates. He also had blue skin, but the color vanished as he grew older.
So, no, people with blue skin are not a myth. They are not often encountered, but they can be real.