A Tennessee man suffers from a rare and mysterious medical condition -- once or twice a week, he cries tears of blood.
Michael Spann first experienced the strange phenomenon at the age of 22. He was walking the down the stairs of his home in Antioch, Tenn., when he suddenly experienced a severe headache. “I felt like I got hit in the head with a sledgehammer,” Spann told the Tennessean. “I never felt anything like it.”
Blood began to stream from his eyes, nose and mouth.
At first, this was a daily occurrence. Now, almost seven years later, Spann says he gets tears of blood about once or twice a week. Doctors are stumped as to what causes Spann’s condition. According to FoxNews.com, the rare condition of suffering from tears of blood is called Haemolacria.
As the Tennessean reports, the phenomenon is not without precedence. In 2009, Calvino Inman, a 16-year-old teenager living in East Tennessee, made headlines when he revealed he suffered from the same condition. According to the Tennessean, Spann attempted to contact Inman, but never heard back.
Continue Reading Below
Dr. James “Chris” Fleming, an ophthalmologist at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Hamilton Eye Institute in Memphis, co-authored an article in 2004 saying he’s seen four patients with the bloody tears over an 11-year period. “Most of these were relatively young patients,” Fleming said. “As they matured, the bleeding decreased, subsided and then stopped.”
“There probably is a cause, but it is a small tear duct that is only a millimeter or two or three in diameter,” Fleming said. “It’s a tube. To get into that tube and examine that tube from one end to the other would cause scarring, and you could lose part of the tear duct. That’s the dilemma that can cause problems, that will leave someone with a permanent disability.”
Meanwhile, the situation has wreaked havoc on Spann’s personal life. According to the New York Daily News, he’s an artist and aspiring fashion designer, but because of his condition, he’s been unable to attend college or hold down a job. “Any job I get I lose because my eyes start bleeding and they can’t keep me on,” Spann said. “Obviously, I can’t be a waiter and work in any public thing because you are bleeding.”
Spann has also become very reclusive.
“I have kids that ride by on bikes in this neighborhood who point and say, ‘That’s the guy who bleeds,’ ” Spann told the Tennessean. “I really don’t want more than that.”
“He will start talking to someone, and his eyes will start filling up with blood,” said Spann’s mother Peggy. “They haven’t seen it before, and it will scare the living daylights out of them. It is very frustrating not to be able to treat or even get some kind of remission for it.”
According to the Tennessean, Spann went to the Cleveland Clinic after getting a recommendation for a neurologist there who's done extensive work in headaches. After around $4,300 worth of lab work, doctors still can’t find the cause or recommend a treatment.