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Parents Of Chinese Baby Born With 16 Toes, 15 Fingers Hope For Help

A Chinese family is currently appealing for help for their baby, who was born with a very rare congenital condition.

A couple of migrant workers received the shock of their lives when they found out that their son, nicknamed Hong Hong and now 3 months old, was born with a very rare and extreme case of polydactyly: a total of 16 toes and 15 fingers. This is aside from a pair of palms on each hand and no thumbs.

Polydactyly is a congenital deformation characterized by the presence of extra fingers and toes, which may be so small they are called nubbins or fully formed that they can have their own set of bones. They may also be non-functional or be complex they can prevent the person from using the hands or feet properly.

Although there have been reported cases of polydactyly in humans and animals, it doesn't happen often. Further, it's very rare to find a polydactylous person with this number of digits.

Polydactyly can also be passed on, although it cannot be determined when it will appear in the next generation since scientists are still trying to figure out the specific gene that may be causing it. It can be dominant, in which case the chance of having a child with polydactyly is 50 percent if one of the parents has the same condition.

"Alternatively a gene change might be recessive, in which case the chance of a person with polydactyly passing that trait onto a child is much smaller, depending on their partner's family history," said the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Incidentally, the mother of the child was also born with an extra finger in one of her hands, but the couple, who hail from Hunan Province, have made it clear they took all the steps before the child was born.

"My wife has one extra finger and toe on each of her hands and feet, so we were worried that our child would inherit the condition. But after going to three big hospitals in Shenzhen, doctors found no birth defects on our son during scans," said Zou Chenglin, the father.

The couple is bent on having the child undergo surgery to remove the extra digits and hopefully allow him to live a normal life that's free of difficulty and risk of being bullied.

They are now asking for support from the public and local charities to help them raise up to 500,000 yuan ($77,000), which will cover both the risky surgery, which should be performed between 6 months and 1 year before the bones set in, and the recovery.

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