Why the Zebra Fingerprint?

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It all started when…

The purpose of our charity was founded upon an individual’s personal story and experience with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. We wanted to continue this theme of individuality and identification because no sufferer with EDS is ever the same, but instead uniquely different. Similarly, a thumbprint is unique to each individual created by their personal genetics, and therefore links with the fact that EDS is a genetic disease.

The black and white impression created by a fingerprint symbolically reflects the black and white stripes of a zebra. Many people who suffer from rare diseases, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are known as medical zebras. The zebra originates from the phrase doctors are taught in medical school “when you hear the sound of hooves, think horses not zebras”.

Doctors are taught to assume the most common and simplest diagnosis (horses) which is usually correct, to avoid misdiagnosing patients with rare illnesses (zebras). Yet sometimes, when you hear the sound of hooves, it really is a zebra. Many EDS patients find it extremely difficult pursuing diagnosis and treatment for years, even decades, because doctors forget that ‘zebras’ do exist. But no two zebras have identical stripes, just like no two thumbprints have identical impressions, just like no two people suffering from Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are the same – symptoms and severity of the condition differ from individual to individual.

So the thumbprint carries more meaning than just identity…no two patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are the same; no two diagnosis journeys, treatment and management of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are the same; just like no two thumbprints, representing an EDS personal story, are ever the same. 

We worked with designer Steve Inglis to realise our ambition for our identity. Mind Body EDS aims to make our mark and leave a positive impression on those affected by Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, the medical community and worldwide society.