A pensioner who feels no pain or fear could open the door to a new generation of pain-relief and anxiety medications after scientists discovered the genetic mutations that make her so rare.
For decades Jo Cameron has been cheerfully bumping, burning and bruising herself in all manner of mishap, yet she never stopped to ask why her injuries did not hurt.
She gave birth to both her children without once resorting to drugs; she laughs off offers of anaesthetic during dental work, and when she burns herself while cooking on the Rayburn in her Scottish Highlands home, often the first she knows about it is the smell of her own burning flesh.
Virtually nothing worries her. When a wayward white van careered into her car on a remote country road, leaving her upside down in a ditch, it was she, totally unfazed, who found herself comforting the driver.
It was not until Mrs Cameron’s sixties, as she was preparing for an arthritis operation on her hand, that she – or anyone in the medical profession – first suspected she was different.
“My anaesthetist said “you will definitely need strong pain-killers after this because it can be a very brutal”,” she told The Telegraph.
“I said “I bet I won’t”. When he came round after the operation and saw that I was right he said “This really isn’t normal”.”
This followed an operation to repair severe joint degeneration on her hip, which specialists had refused her twice because the key diagnostic criterion was pain.
Now 71, Mrs Cameron, who lives with her husband Jim near Loch Ness, has become the focus of intense research by scientists eager to establish if her sky-high pain threshold can be traced to the same location in her genome as her fearless and optimistic qualities.
SOURCE: Henry Bodkin