08 June 2006

What's Wrong With 3 Arms?


Yes, I know very well having three arms is not normal...but is it wrong to have them especially if you were born with it?

Liu JunJie is a 2-month old Chinese boy who has had an "unusually well-formed third arm," as you can see from the picture above before the operation. The right arm is normal but both two left arms are non-functional, and according to reports, arm #2 was surgically removed because tests showed that this was the less-developed limb of the two. The left arm that was retained "has no palm and flexes both ways."

Explanation for the 3rd extra limb?

Dr. Chen Bochang, the chief surgeon, speculates that it can be part of the limbs of a conjoined twin that never developed. He said that the two left arms shared part of their joint capsules, and in order to remove the extra limb, they had to divide the joint capsules. He is uncertain how functionality will be affected with a split joint capsule. [A crash course on shoulder anatomy can be read here.] He adds that this is the world's third known case of this type as a hospital in Houston had also received two similar cases before.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with having an extra limb, especially if it is as well-developed as in this case. I think it is better if the decision to remove it was left to Jie-Jie himself when he reaches an age when he can better decide for himself. For all we know, an extra limb might prove to be more of an advantage than a liability.

9 reactions:

bayibhyap said...

He will need tailored shirts, for one thing.

Dr. Emer said...

....or he can opt to hide it in a jacket. If it turns out to be functional later on, we really wouldn't want to engage him in boxing or a gun duel, right? =)

tin-tin said...

the harshest thing that could happen to him is being teased by kids his age and gets rejected

ipanema said...

Well, people see physical disability differently, especially those unaffected. As a child, he will be exposed to all the taunts and how a child reacts to this is another matter. Eventually, when this child grows accustomed to all these, he could either: face it as a challenge or retreat to his own world. It's always either of this. It depends on the kind of environment he has. Basically, this child needs a loving, supportive family.

Remember he has only one kidney. What implication will this be to his life, only doctors know.

Dr. Emer said...

People can survive with one kidney. People in kidney trades know that very well. The spine curvature may be cumbersome but with physical rehabilitation, it can be manageable, too.

I agree that environment will play a special role whether he (granting he wasn't operated on) will treat this as a disability or an asset.

ruth said...

there might not be anything wrong, physically, with having three arms. but i can only imagine the psychological trauma it can result to. if he was my son, i'd probably have him operated on as well...

bayibhyap said...

Tin Tin

...or they may even see him as some wonderment, asking their parents why they can't have three arms.

bing said...

cant bear the thought that my child will have to undergo taunts. you know how cruel some people can turn out to be. but with loving people around, children or individuals who have disabilities and deformities can learn to cope.

but i still would choose a child with two arms... bothered about the idea not for myself but for the kid.

rolly said...

just like the others, as a parent, I think I would have opted to spare my child from all possible taunting that can be traumatic for the child. After all, the benefits of having a third limb would still be speculative for after all, we all managed with only two. It would hurt me very much to know that people are calling my child abnormal.