CONJOINED twin boys are thriving one year after separation surgery. Twins Prince and Love were born joint at the stomach, and a shared liver, urinary bladder, intestines and fused pelvic bones. But in December 2017, 15 months after they were born, the siblings from Ghatkopar, India, were separated by surgeons at Wadia Children’s Hospital in Mumbai. Now, the hospital and family are celebrating a year since the twins have been separated as they continue to live healthily and happily.
A YOUNG WOMAN who suffers from alopecia refuses to wear a wig and claims her baldness has increased her confidence. Kylie Clowney, who resides in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, developed alopecia areata when she was just two years old and has been bald most of her life. The 23-year-old woman, who says that alopecia is her ‘strength, not a weakness’, supports others with the same condition and hopes to inspire more women with alopecia to start their own journey to self-love.
DESPITE there being only 155 known cases worldwide, a brother and sister BOTH live with progeria – an incredibly rare disease that makes them age too fast. Siblings Michiel and Amber Vandeweert have progeria, a genetic condition characterised by the signs of accelerated, and premature, ageing. Experiencing problems with their bones, teeth and hair growth, patients with progeria have a very short life expectancy with most not seeing out their teen years. But that hasn’t stopped Michiel, 20, and Amber, 12, living their best life together - the inspirational siblings from Belgium have truly defied all odds up to this point and show no signs of slowing down. Daredevil, Michiel, stands at just 4 foot 1 inch and loves to race around a track at Go Karting and snowboard with his friends. Amber, 3 foot 7 inches, has a great a passion for dancing and describes herself as playful. When Michiel was born, doctors said it was verging on impossible for the Vandeweert family to give birth to a second child who also had the disease, and so when Amber was diagnosed eight years after her brother, everyone fell into a state of shock. No one expected the siblings to be in this position, but they remain thankful to this day that they have each other as their greatest support.
MARRIED Melinda and Larry Mikla have an unconventional age gap in their relationship - of 30 years. The lovestruck pair get stares everywhere they go, from passers-by who think they are dad and daughter, or worse, a granddaughter and her grandpa. The pair met when retired police officer Larry was the first responder to a minor traffic incident involving Mindy’s car in Ohio, USA, in August 2012. Now the couple are trying for a baby, but don’t know if it will be possible due to Larry having a vasectomy 18 years ago.
A PERMANENT CLOWN in West Hollywood insists he has no regrets over his look and loves his entertainer lifestyle. Richie began modifying his face to look like a clown over 10 years ago, when he first moved to Hollywood working as a barber. Since then, Richie, who goes by the name ‘Richie the Barber’, has had silicone implants, a split tongue and numerous facial tattoos including a nose tipped in red, blue eyelids and a Cheshire cat grin. Despite his look terrifying some people, the 33-year-old doesn’t regret his decisions.
A HUSBAND and wife dubbed the UK’s transgender ‘power couple’ plan to start a family together. Despite getting married towards the beginning of 2018, Jake and Hannah Graf are only now moving into their first home together. The couple met three years ago, splitting their time between Jake’s west London flat and Hannah’s army barracks at Sandhurst. But now that Hannah has left the army, she can finally live permanently with her husband. The couple first connected over social media through mutual friends in the transgender community. Jake, an actor and director, transitioned 10 years ago, while Hannah, who joined the army as a man, serving in Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, began transitioning five years ago.
A BOY who has had constructive surgery to turn his ankle for a knee is dreaming of becoming a professional basketball player. Aiden Godoy, from Naples, Florida, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, or PFFD, which left him with a malformed right leg.The eight year old's parents were advised to amputate the leg but they refused and decided to explore a rotationplasty. Aiden had his lower leg and foot rotated 180 degrees, his tibia was fused to the proximal femur. His foot is positioned where the knee used to be, with the heel portion in front and the toes pointing back, the ankle now functions in place of the knee joint. Now Aiden is using his new leg to master basketball, swimming and riding in his families ATV’s.
A GENETIC mutation has caused a woman’s leg to swell to more than three times its normal size. Tawheeda Jan, aged 21, from Indian Administered Kashmir was born with Lymphatic Filariasis, a condition more commonly known as elephantiasis. Elephantiasis is typically characterized by thickening of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that causes grossly enlarged and swollen limbs. The condition has affected Tawheeda since birth but has worsened over time. Sadly, Tawheeda has never been able to wear shoes, and has even had her toes amputated to try and ease her discomfort, but still faces a daily struggle with the condition.
A YOUNG woman who was on a liquid diet for a year has finally been able to eat her beloved pasta again thanks to her ostomy bag. Charlotte Twinley, from Arundel, Sussex suffered such severe pain from her body’s inability to digest food that she had to resort to a liquid-only diet of meal replacement milkshakes for a whole year. In her teen years Charlotte was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (or EDS), a connective tissue disorder, which in Charlotte’s case affected her joints and also her gastroparesis in her digestive system. To make matters worse, because of the discomfort associated with eating, Charlotte started to reduce her food intake resulting in weight loss and an eating disorder. It’s only now, after receiving care for her mental health and the ostomy surgery that Charlotte feels happy with both her physical and mental health – and proud of the small pouch that has enabled her to eat again.
In 2018, BARCROFT TV has featured the most inspiring, shocking and heart-warming stories from across the world. From exploring the world of snake-handling churches, to getting sassy with killer plus-size dance troupes. Meeting everyone from inspiring transgender children, to people who proudly embrace their differences, such as a woman with a beard and a teen whose body is covered in 90 percent burns. To celebrate Barcroft TV’s 1.1 billion YouTube views, and an additional 2 million subscribers, we’ve collated our top 10 most viewed videos of the year and can now reveal our most incredible and inspirational figures of 2018.
HUMAN Ken doll Rodrigo Alves celebrates Christmas in Milan, by buying pairs of designer shoes for his friends and taking singing lessons for his budding singing career. Primarily known for his love of plastic surgery, Rodrigo Alves says he will spend 2019 focusing on launching a singing career - and has even set his sights on entering the Eurovision contest. Also known as the human Ken doll, Rodrigo has started singing lessons with vocal coach Laura Pesenti in Milan, Italy. During his time in the Italian style capital Rodrigo has also been getting into the festive spirit with some shoe shopping, making pizza for his friends - and of course finding time for a little cosmetic procedure: this time a Brazilian butt lift.
A 33-YEAR-OLD TWIN born with a curved spine, missing kidney and deformed arm is embracing his differences through comedy. Matty Oxley, an aspiring comedian from Middlesbrough, was born with VATER Syndrome, a set of birth defects that often occur together, and include the curvature of his spine, or scoliosis. However, this hasn’t stopped him from fulfilling his dream: for the past five years, Matty has been performing stand-up comedy and has recently opened his own comedy club.
A TEEN model has beaten the odds and has relearned to walk and talk after surviving a stroke age 12. Growing up with three older sisters, Rafi Solaiman was the typical younger brother: full of energy and enthusiasm he would run around the house, play sports in the garden and do whatever he could to wind up his siblings. All of that changed when aged 12, Rafi suffered a stroke and brain haemorrhage so severe it left his body in locked in syndrome. Rafi had to learn how to walk, talk - and even blink again. Now 18 years old, while Rafi is still affected by the stroke, he has an exciting future ahead of him.
A WOMAN is calling herself a ‘living doll’ after connecting to the dolls she uses in her art. Fifi, who goes by the name ‘Fifi Doll’, has been dressing like a doll for three years – and she’s almost always in pink. Although Fifi calls herself a living doll, she wants people to understand it’s more about identity and not performance. When it comes to her look, Fifi draws inspiration from ball-jointed dolls, as anyone of any shape can enjoy the look. Fifi always tries to incorporate her doll-style into her outfits, drawing inspiration from the antique look of lace, chiffon and soft fabrics.
DESPITE being born with a rare form of Primordial Dwarfism that affects just over a dozen people worldwide, 3”6 Monica Zaring continues to defy all the odds. Monica, 30, is currently the oldest female in the world to be living with Saul-Wilson Syndrome – a condition that has baffled doctors for decades. Saul-Wilson Syndrome is an extremely rare skeletal disorder characterised by a significantly short stature, a pronounced forehead, hearing loss and microcephaly – the appearance of a smaller head. Six years ago, Monica, who resides in Louisville, Kentucky, provided a sample of her DNA to doctors who were working on a groundbreaking study of Saul-Wilson Syndrome at the National Institute of Health. And in the latter stages of 2017, Monica’s years of heartache and unanswered questions were finally resolved, with doctors successfully identifying the root cause of her rare dwarfism.
A YOUNG WOMAN suffering from kidney failure has finally found a replacement organ – from the boyfriend she met on Tinder. 22-year-old Cheyenne HanLee, from Santa Ana, CA, met Gavin on Tinder after he ‘super-starred’ her. Just over two years later, he has saved her life by donating his kidney to her.
A FIERCE mum is wearing her severe burn scars like diamonds. Alyssa McDonald, 27, from Stillwater, Oklahoma, was severely burned at two years old when she accidentally pulled a pot of boiling butter off the stove and onto herself. She endured surgeries every other year until she was 17 and struggled to face her scars. But everything changed in high school when she woke up one day and decided enough was enough - she was going to learn to love her scars and ‘wear them like diamonds.'
A MARRIED COUPLE with a 30 year age gap hasn’t let their age difference get in the way of their relationship and has recently welcomed a baby girl. Wesleigh, 24, and Vince, 54, from Little Rock, Arkansas, met each other online and have been together for three years. Vince is divorced and has a son from his previous marriage who is two years older than his new wife – but that didn't stop the couple from starting a romance. Wesleigh said she was always interested in older men and was looking for a protective, older male figure to fill the emotional void left when her father passed away when she was a child.
A BOLD lymphedema sufferer is embracing her jiggle after years of being ashamed of her condition. Cara Cruz, 36, from New Brighton, Pennsylvania, developed lipoedema and lymphedema as a teenager and the growing problem had a devastating impact on her confidence. But after starting an Instagram on a dare from her boyfriend, Cara burst out of her shell and into the body positive community and now she is determined to flaunt her curves. Through her 25,000 Instagram following and meet ups with Yinz’s Bopo group, the curvaceous beauty hopes to inspire more people to start their own journey to self love.
A WOMAN claims to be empowering people to express themselves freely, by dressing as a doll with a gothic twist. Jess Soares, known on social media as ‘Rotting Doll’, has been dressing as an alternative doll for over a year and a half. The 24-year-old from Rhode Island usually spends an hour and half getting ready each morning to fulfil her doll aesthetic. The routine consists of wearing coloured contacts, wigs and contouring her face with streaks of blue makeup.
A YOUNG girl has become an accomplished Junior Reserve Officer cadet, despite being born with no arms. Donavia Walker, 16, was born with a rare condition called Bilateral Amelia and has learned to use her feet to do everything from driving to using her phone. Now, she is a squad commander and a part of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). The Winterhaven, Florida-native told Barcroft Media: “People would put me down because they didn't think I could do as much as I can.
TWO sets of identical twins have become firm friends, united by their shared experience of watching a sibling transition from a brother to a sister. Nataisha and Jakeb Smiley, aged nine, came across a Barcroft TV documentary featuring Jada Tahiry and Branden Miguel for My Trans Life. After seeing the film and reaching out, Branden and Jada have become close to the Smiley family.
A WOMAN has started a dance group for fellow plus-size women to prove dancers come in all shapes and sizes. Since she was young, Charity Holloway has lived and breathed for dancing. But when she was told, as a teenager, she was too fat to dance, she nearly gave it up altogether. Thankfully Charity didn’t and she is now the proud founder and choreographer of 4Thirty-Two, a plus-sized dance group in Charlotte, North Carolina.
SINGLE mother, Sindy Starlet, has spent the last 21 years trying to perfect the ultimate ‘Barbie’ image – and she’s now set to triple the size of her 700cc breasts. Sindy describes herself as the ‘Norwegian Bimbo Doll’, and with her bleach-blonde hair and bright pink lipstick, she is now targeting the crown of having ‘Norway’s biggest breasts’. Sindy, who runs a salon in Oslo, has already spent more than $10,000 on cosmetic procedures and now plans on taking her breast size to 3,000cc with the help of new expanders. Away from the glitz and glamour that Sindy displays for her thousands of Instagram fans, the 36-year-old is a single mother to her 14-year-old son, Leo.
Despite being born with an incredibly rare condition that causes his skin to blister and tear with the slightest touch – John Hudson Dilgen is inspiring people with his motivational speaking. John, 15, was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa, a condition that leaves him in constant pain and affects only one in every 50,000 children in the United States. On a daily basis, John has to have the majority of his body wrapped in bandages to save him from infections and further harm – around 95 percent of John’s body is covered in open wounds.