Russian teen growing second set of ribs left in agony

A Russian teen who is suffering from constant pain was recently diagnosed with a rare congenital abnormality that has caused him to grow a second pair of ribs.

Valery Zhulanov, 13, was wrongly thought to be obese when his chest began taking on a rounded shape, Central European News (CEN) reported. But an X-ray later revealed a condition called cervical ribs, or neck ribs, which has stunted his growth and makes it painful for him to bend or turn around.

Cervical ribs form above the normal first rib, growing from the base of the neck above the collarbone. While it’s present at birth, it’s typically not noticed until later in life. It may not be fully-formed or just a thin strand of tissue fibers making it difficult to detect on an X-ray or MRI, according to the National Health Services. However, a cervical rib can sometimes squash a nearby blood vessel or nerve, causing neck pain and numbness.

The second pair of ribs has begun pressing on his heart and lungs, leading doctors to call for emergency surgery, but his parents cannot afford it.

“Kids laugh at me. But it’s not funny to me, this makes me sad,” Zhulanov told CEN. “It is hard for me to run, to turn round, to lean and to bend over and sometimes my back hurts when I am carrying heavy things.”

A local doctor told CEN Zhulanov’s best hope is to see a specialist in Moscow. His parents are trying to apply for disability benefits.