This sounds like the stuff of many soap opera plot twists … except it’s real. A California woman decided to have an unusual birthmark on her torso checked out (always a good idea) and the diagnosis was shocking to say the least – her doctor informed her that mark was actually DNA that was different than her own … different because she had absorbed a fraternal twin before birth and parts of that sibling have become part of her. This explains a lot of mysterious other symptoms and ailments she’s experienced.
“Everything on the left side of my body is slightly larger than the right side. I have a double tooth in the left side of my mouth and many sensitivities and allergies to foods, medications, supplements, jewelry, and insect bites.”
Taylor Muhl (pictures of her birthmark can be seen here and here) was diagnosed with tetragametic chimerism, an extremely rare (100 known cases, although it’s possibly more common that once thought) condition caused when two separate eggs are fertilized by two different sperms, starting the process that usually results in fraternal twins … except when one of the embryos absorbs the other. The surviving (or perhaps ‘victorious’ is a better description) twin often ends up with parts of both, such as two different eye colors or two sets of genitalia. In Taylor’s case, she has two sets of DNA, two bloodstreams and two immune systems.
That last trait has caused some serious health issues, such as autoimmune conditions, acid reflux, neuropathy, borderline fibromyalgia, and endometriosis (a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside of the womb). At least now she has an explanation for her ailments, as Taylor tells Women’s Health.
“My body treats my sibling’s genetic makeup as foreign matter and wants to reject it—but can’t. It strips my immune system daily. Stress and lack of sleep makes things more severe.”
Throw in chronic back pain and daily pain all over her body and it’s understandable why Taylor has kept her mysterious condition and physical abnormalities hidden as she attempted to pursue a career as a singer. However, finally getting a diagnosis has given Taylor some psychological relief that has inspired her to open up recently to People magazine about her tetragametic chimerism as a way to help other who may have the rare condition and to promote the healthy lifestyle that is giving her relief from the physical conditions it causes.
Unfortunately, as one stress goes away, another takes its place.
“My first reaction was shock. Then my second reaction was sadness because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I could’ve gone through life with a twin, with a sibling that I hopefully could have been close to. There was some sadness.”
On the other hand, there’s also a great inspiration for her first country-western song.