Doctors left stunned as grandmother, 94, with 'lobster claw' feet and hands reveals she has lived her whole life unassisted and even KNITS for her family

October 11, 2018  16:12

A grandmother born with 'lobster claw' feet and hand deformities has surprised doctors by leading a normal life.

The 94-year-old, from East Sussex, went to hospital because she had confusion caused by a urinary tract infection.

While she was there, medics spotted her deformities and decided to examine her hands and feet.

The unnamed woman told doctors she had siblings, a son and three grandchildren who weren't affected by the condition.

Other than her deformities, she was otherwise healthy, had managed her whole life without assistance, raised a son and regularly knitted for her family.

The unnamed woman was diagnosed with a condition called ectrodactyly, also known as split hand/split foot malformation (SHFM).


The rare condition affects only around one in 18,000 people and is caused by a genetic defect which can be inherited or happen randomly in the womb.

Doctors discovered the woman had no thumbs and had just two fingers on each hand, an article in the journal BMJ Case Reports revealed.

The remaining fingers on her left hand were 'largely intact' and the woman was somehow still able to knit.

Her feet were both missing and the middle two toes and the two smaller toes were joined together which, the study authors said, gave them 'a classical "lobster claw" deformity'.

X-rays revealed she had grown most finger bones in the right place but they were either shortened or at an abnormal angle.

Her feet, however, appeared to be completely missing the bones of the middle two toes and were the same on both sides.

Doctors could find no signs of an illness or syndrome which had caused the woman's condition and decided it was just a random genetic error before she was born.

They wrote: 'She had carried out a normal life despite being significantly affected with deformed hands and feet, raised a child without any support and had a regular hobby of knitting.'

Reconstructive surgery or prosthetics could be used to treat someone with SHFM but the woman had coped so well for nearly a century she didn't need therapy.


Split hand/split foot malformation can either be inherited from a parent or occur as a result of a spontaneous gene mutation before a baby is born.

People with the condition do not tend to have a shorter life expectancy if it isn't part of a syndrome which could shorten life.



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