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It Came From ‘Germophobia’: The Lengths We’ll Go

April 28, 2014

We’ve got a brand new book out: Uncle John’s Germophobia. It’s all about hospital horrors, bad doctors, botched surgeries, nightmare nurses, weird diseases, and all the things that can and will go wrong when it comes to your health. Here’s a taste of the kind of thing you’ll find inside.

  • Uneven LegsIn 2001, an Australian city councilor named Hajnal Ban finally decided to do something about her lifelong insecurity with being 5’1” tall—she had elective surgery to stretch out her legs. Ban had to go all the way to Siberia to find a clinic willing to perform this highly painful, risky, and unnecessary $31,000 surgery. First, doctors broke Ban’s legs in four places, and using a horrifying bone-stretching device, extended them by a millimeter each day. That daily, unbelievable pain went on for nine months, but at the end, Ban was…three inches taller.
  • Due to a birth defect, a Swedish police officer’s right leg was slightly longer than his left leg. So in 2008, he found a surgeon who agreed to shorten the right one so that his legs would be equal. But the surgery was botched: The knee joint was put back in the wrong position, and one of the screws they used to hold the joint together came loose. During a second surgery, the doctor discovered another problem with the first surgery, which required a third one. That one was slightly botched, too, requiring a fourth. Each time, the surgeon had to take a little more off of the patient’s right leg—which had been two and a half centimeters longer than the left. Now it’s five centimeters shorter than the left.
  • When she was a child, Chinese woman Xu Juan developed a terrible infection in her left leg. Not able to get access to the best health care, that infection ran rampant and literally ate away at her thigh, causing tissue to die, her knee and hip to under-develop, and the leg itself to shrink in length by an astounding nine inches. In other words, her right leg was nine inches shorter than the other one, and she required crutches to get around. In 2014, Juan, then 21, and her parents had saved up enough money for the corrective surgery to make both of her legs the same length, and restore some normalcy to her life. Did they shorten the other leg? Nope. Doctors performed the much more complicated surgery to stretch out the too-short leg. First, surgeons extended the left leg, elongating the bones through a painful procedure to even it out with the right one. Juan topped it all off with surgeries to replace her left knee and hip joints.

Want more horrors? Get Germophobia!

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