A 28-year-old woman is reportedly suffering from an extremely rare skin condition that causes her to grow fingernails all over her body — including her face/scalp — instead of hair.
Shanyna A. Isom, a criminal justice student from Memphis, Tennessee, says she first saw signs of the condition back in 2009, when she had an asthma attack that doctors treated with steroids.
Unfortunately, Shanyna had an allergic reaction to the steroids, which caused her to develop bumbs on her legs, and her skin tone began to darken.
“Over time it started to turn my legs black with bumps,” Isom told WMC-TV. She said that doctors in Memphis have treated her for everything, from eczema to a staph infection.
“And we know it couldn’t be that after all the medication she had been on,” Shanyna’s Aunt, Jataun Isom said.
“They’ve tested me from A to Z and everything was coming back negative,” Shanyna said.
When Shanyna was admitted to Johns Hopkins in August 2011, doctors there determined that she produces 12 times the number of skin cells per hair follicle, which is suffocating her skin.
Instead of hair … her skin follicles are producing human nails. “Where hair grows, nails are growing,” she said.
After spending some time at Johns Hopkins, Shanyna’s quality of life has improved slightly. “I couldn’t sit up I couldn’t walk,” she said. “Now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own.”
But Shanyna’s mysterious condition has opened up a whole new door of problems. Her state-issued insurance doesn’t cover her specialist care, and covers only five of the 17 medications she needs to treat her symptoms.
“So we had to depend on the family and friends and different fundraisers and things like that to help me get back and forth,” she said, adding that her family has already burned through their savings, and her outstanding medical bills are currently up to $250,000.
“We know that God is a healer and he’s going to bring her through,” Shanyna’s grandmother Carrie Isom said.
“At this point I just do everything I can to get the help that’s needed for her,” said Shanyna’s friend Tolungia Webb.
“I love her and I know that she’s gonna get better,” Karintha Rawls, another friend, said.
Isom, who says she is the only person in the world with her condition, has set up the S.A.I. Foundation to raise money to help cover her bills and to one day help others who may suffer from unknown illnesses.
The S.A.I. Foundation is accepting donations at any Bank of America branch.
“If it means me dealing with this to help someone else, I’m willing to go through it,” Shanyna said.