A young woman has been labeled a medical mystery after developing an unidentified illness which causes humans nails to grow out of her hair follicles.
Shanyna Isom fell ill to the debilitating condition after suffering an allergic reaction three years ago, leaving her struggling to walk and unable to carry out basic daily chores.
The 28-year-old had been working toward her law degree when the nightmare began in September 2009. She had suffered an allergic reaction to steroids given to her to treat her asthma, and within hours she was itching all over and black bumps covered her legs.
Doctors had treated her for everything from eczema to Staphylococcal infection as she was slowly being eaten alive by the mysterious skin disease that doctors have yet to diagnose, and she was soon bedridden as the illness took over her life.
It wasn't until 2011 that doctors in Baltimore established that the bumps covering Isom's entire body were in fact human nails slowly covering her body.
Doctors discovered that Isom's skin was suffocating because she was producing 12 times the normal number of skin cells per hair follicle.
‘Where hair grows, nails are growing,’ Isom told WAFB News.
While doctors have not been able to diagnose her they have been able to control her symptoms.
"I couldn't sit up and I couldn't walk, but now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own," she said.
She described her condition as a nightmare she is trying to wake up from.
"They’ve tested me from A to Z and everything was coming back negative," she said. "As of right now, I am the only one in the world with my illness."
Isom's mystery condition has left her and her family deep in debt as state-issued insurance does not cover her treatment at the specialist unit in Baltimore and only covers five of the 17 medications she is prescribed.
She owes about $250,000 in outstanding medical bills, and she fears that she may not be able to continue her treatment.
She currently relies on the help from her family and friends for financial assistance and she has also set up the S.A.I Foundation to raise money for her treatment.
She hopes that the foundation will be able to raise enough money to cover her medical bills and help others in similar situations.
"If it means me dealing with this to help someone else, I'm willing to go through it," Isom said.