Shanyna Isom Has Rare Disease Causing Fingernails To Grow Where Hair Should [PHOTOS]

  • Shanyna Isom
    One year ago this month, 28-year-old Shanyna Isom discovered she had a rare disease causing fingernails to grow from the follicles where her hair should all over her body. Facebook/SAI Foundation
  • Shanyna Isom
    One year ago this month, 28-year-old Shanyna Isom discovered she had a rare disease causing fingernails to grow from the follicles where her hair should all over her body. Facebook/SAI Foundation
  • Shanyna Isom
    One year ago this month, 28-year-old Shanyna Isom discovered she had a rare disease causing fingernails to grow from the follicles where her hair should all over her body. Facebook/SAI Foundation
  • Shanyna Isom
    One year ago this month, 28-year-old Shanyna Isom discovered she had a rare disease causing fingernails to grow from the follicles where her hair should all over her body. Facebook/SAI Foundation
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One year ago this month, 28-year-old Shanyna Isom discovered she had a rare disease causing fingernails to grow from the follicles where her hair should all over her body.

In 2009, Isom, a criminal justice student at the University of Memphis law school, said she saw bumps developing on her skin, which started to darken in tone. She went to specialists, who tested her for eczema and staph with no luck in finding what could have caused her symptoms.

"Black scabs were coming out of her skin," her mother, Kathy Gary, told ABC. "The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves. They are hard to touch and stick you."

One year ago this month, Isom was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where her doctors discovered the rare disease causing her hair follicles to produce nails instead of hair. It turns out her body was producing 12 times the number of skin cells in each follicle and instead of hair it was human fingernails.

Doctors believe the disease sprang about after she was hospitalized in 2009 for an asthma attack. Isom was given a large dosage of steroids which doctors said caused an allergic reaction and a block of oxygen and vitamins A, B, C, D and K, ABC reported.

According to ABC, the rare unnamed disease has not only affected her skin but has spread to her eyes and bones, causing her to need a cane.

"It has taken all of my hair out and has left my body with scabs all over it, plus I have lost about 200 pounds," she wrote on her blog, Pray For Shanyna. "Two years ago, I was a healthy woman on my own ... had big dreams and goals that I was following until one day my body completely shut down on me."

But Isom isn't letting the effects of the disease, or her mounting bills, get her down.

Despite having over $500,000 in unpaid medical bills, Isom is not giving up her fight to research and possibly cure her disease. She created a foundation called "S.A.I. Foundation" to help others with mystery illnesses unique to them.

According to her mother, Isom's condition is improving, but slowly, thanks to the treatment at Johns Hopkins and the 17 different medications she takes daily.

"Her legs aren't covered in black scabs," her mother told ABC. "They are looking better, and her face just looks like she has a real bad sunburn."

"I couldn't sit up I couldn't walk," she told WMC-TV. "Now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own."

But Isom isn't on her own. Friends and family have helped launch her foundation and now Bank of America is accepting donations at branches across the country, KBOI radio reported.

"I don't know whether to smile or cry. I am very blessed," she told ABC. "I know it's a blessing that I can reach out and touch people's hearts."

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