POSTED: Thursday, October 8, 2009 - 11:16am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm
Dr. George Buchanan is considered one of the best in treating pediatric blood disorders. He heads the program at Children's Medical Center and teaches future pediatricians at UT Southwestern. He's seen the serious, the complex, the rare - and in India, the unusual.
"I had never heard of a child bleeding from her eyes or spontaneously from the scalp and other places," Dr. Buchanan said. But that's what he found in Twinkle, a 13-year-old who claims she's bled spontaneously for more than two years. "There was the hope that I could offer the cure for what she has," Dr. Buchanan said.
National Geographic asked Dr. Buchanan to go with its team to Mumbai to be part of a documentary about Twinkle. During a promo on YouTube he explained, "I am not aware of any medical condition that could explain this." Buchanan spent five days with the teenager, her mother and a hematologist.
He saw blood on her twice. "In the first case, it was within five minutes we were in her room. That's when she had blood on her scalp that was fresh. The second time, it was half an hour to an hour after the bleeding episode started that we got there. She again stated this happened spontaneously from the eyes and the hands. The hands looked very much like there had been blood just smeared there and dried. We didn't prove that the blood was Twinkle's blood but we proved, it was her blood type. But no one has ever seen her bleeding start spontaneously other than her mother," Dr. Buchanan said.
The promo also said, "Some say she's possessed. Some say she's blessed. Some don't know what to believe. Do you make yourself bleed?" Dr. Buchanan was asked, "Did she answer you?" and responded, "She did not. She basically said no and then ran down the hallway crying."
Buchanan suspects otherwise, and hints at a conspiracy between Twinkle and her mother. "My guess is the answer to that is yes. That the mother is part of this, either the two sort of in collusion to purposefully sort of mystify all those trying to help her, but it may well be that there's is a serious psychiatric problem that effects both of them," Dr. Buchanan said.
Buchanan left India frustrated by the absence of a firm diagnosis and concerned about what's next for Twinkle. "I really, truly wanted to help her. And I still do," Dr. Buchanan said. It's unknown whether he'll ever get that chance.