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Rare Genetic Mutation Makes Woman Virtually Immune to Pain, Anxiety and Stress

Jo Cameron, 71-year-old woman from Scotland, is one of only two people in the world known to have a rare genetic mutation that makes them virtually immune to pain.

Interestingly, Cameron only learned about her “superpower” at age 65, when doctors found that she didn’t need any painkillers after a undergoing a serious operation on her hand. She had been warned to expect severe pain after the surgery, but she didn’t feel any at all, so her anaesthetist referred her to pain geneticists at University College London and Oxford University, where tests showed that she had a mutation in a previously unknown gene, which scientists now believe plays a major roleĀ in pain signalling, mood and memory.

The story of how Jo ended up having surgery on her hand is quite interesting. Every now and then, her hip would give way, making her walk lop-sided, but because she never reported any pain, doctors didn’t even bother doing an x-ray scan of her hip. When someone finally decided to investigate the problem more thoroughly, they discovered massive joint deterioration that for the average person would have been impossible to live with without painkillers. Cameron had her hip replaced and managed the pain with just two paracetamol tablets a day. While she was recuperating in the hospital, doctors noticed that her thumbs were deformed by osteoarthritis and scheduled her for double hand surgery, a procedure that many experts describe as excruciating. Yet Jo didn’t feel any pain at all.

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