If you thought getting your roots touched up every six weeks was a drag, try being Shalini Yadav. That’s how often the India native, 16, has shed her skin for her entire life, due to a rare condition called lamellar ichthyosis that causes the epidermis to grow quickly, dry up into scale-like formations, and fall off.
The effects of Yadav’s genetic mutation earned her the cruel nickname of the “human snake,” and with her family lacking the finances to afford the proper medical care, the teenager’s only methods of treatment were hourly soaks and constantly moisturizing her body just to alleviate the symptoms. The skin on her limbs became so tight and painful that she eventually became wheelchair-bound, and she was kicked out of school because the other children were frightened by her appearance.
In addition to the $60,000 worth of treatment she’s already received, Yanav will receive constant support from the specialists in Spain for the rest of her life. Her first plan of action is returning to school. “I want to study well and become a doctor. I want to help people like me,” she said. “I want to do what the doctors in Spain have done for me.” Perfect — we need more strong women in STEM.
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