The skeleton of a sufferer of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP)

Descriptions of medical cases in which people have apparently turned slowly to stone have been recorded since the 19th century; it is possible that some of these cases may be founded in reality. This “stone man syndrome” occurs due to an exceptionally rare genetic disorder causing damaged connective tissue to essentially transmute into bone due to a corruption of the normal repair process. This can often cause the paralysis of joints and ultimately the entire skeleton, as seen here.

Curiously (yet terrifyingly) the disease does not immobilize the heart, eyes, smooth muscle or diaphragm, allowing these organs to sustain life and the senses even as the rest of the body is frozen in place.  


The effects of Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a disease which causes damaged soft tissue to regrow as bone. Sufferers are slowly imprisoned by their own skeletons.

Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), sometimes referred to as Stone Man Syndrome, is an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue. A mutation of the body’s repair mechanism causes fibrous tissue (including muscle, tendon, and ligament) to be ossified spontaneously or when damaged. In many cases, injuries can cause joints to become permanently frozen in place. Surgical removal of the extra bone growths has been shown to cause the body to “repair” the affected area with more bone.[1]

The true story of a man who helps treats patients with fibrodysplasis ossificans progressiva, otherwise known as the “stone man syndrome”. It hardens the muscles to the point where it almost literally turns people into living statues.

Watching this movie has only given me more drive to be a nurse. To help treat those who can’t help themselves. To give those who can’t speak a voice.

I know I’ll be faced with death, and I’ll watch people die. But if I can make one patient believe that they were cared for, even by a stranger, then I’m fulfilling my purpose.