Michael Spann has a rare condition that causes him to bleed out of his mouth, eyes and nose.The socially isolated man declined to show his face for a news report.
A man in Tennessee is the latest to share his experiences with the mysterious medical condition known as haemolacria, or bloody tears.
Michael Spann of Antioch began crying blood daily at age 22, he told local newspaper The Tennessean. Seven years later, the episodes are less frequent but still occur once or twice a week. Doctors and specialists have been unable to determine the cause.
“I have a condition that I get these really bad headaches, and along with the headaches I bleed from my eyes,” Spann said. “I also bleed out of my mouth, my nose.
“There’s … other people who have what I have in Tennessee alone, which is strange, but (none) of them have ever bled out of their ears. So I don’t know if I have an advanced version of whatever those people have, or something else entirely.
“There’s nothing much any of the doctors can do about it since they don’t know how to treat it.”
In 2009 Calvino Inman of Rockville, Tenn., then 15 years old, made headlines with his plea for doctors to help cure his tears of blood. Spann has tried to contact Inman but hasn’t heard back, he said.
Spann, an artist who likes sketching, aspires to being a fashion designer with his own clothing line, but said his medical condition has kept him from attending college or holding down a job.
Spann, an artist, hopes to become a fashion designer with his own clothing line, but has found it difficult to keep a job because of his condition.
“Any job I get I lose because my eyes start bleeding and they can’t keep me on,” he said. “Obviously, I can’t be a waiter and work in any public thing because you are bleeding.”
It has also made him socially isolated, he said.
“I have kids that ride by on bikes in this neighborhood who point and say, ‘That’s the guy who bleeds,’” he said.
Earlier this year, a 20-year-old woman from Chile publicly sought help for haemolacria. Yaritza Oliva told news outlets the episodes happened without warning and left her in “indescribable” pain.
Dr. James “Chris” Fleming of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who has studied patients with haemolacria, told The Tennesseean that the condition is so difficult to diagnose because doing invasive procedures in the tear duct area is risky.
“There probably is a cause, but it is a small tear duct that is only a millimeter or two or three in diameter,” Fleming said. “It’s a tube. To get into that tube and examine that tube from one end to the other would cause scarring, and you could lose part of the tear duct. That’s the dilemma that can cause problems, that we will leave someone with a permanent disability.”
The patients he has seen are “relatively young,” Fleming also said, and he has seen the condition subside with age.
Fleming has not treated Spann, but Spann plans to reach out to him for help, The Tennessean reported.