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Bangladeshi Family Has No Fingerprints Due to Rare Genetic Mutation

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  • 22-year-old Apu Sarker and the rest of the men in his family have smooth finger pads, without the unique lines and ridges that a one with fingerprints has.
  • His father Amal was given a passport after he presented a medical certificate. But he has yet to use it because of his fears of encountering problems at the airport.
  • Apu said that the men in the family had to use his mother’s sim card since they couldn’t buy their own.

For majority of people in the world, the fingerprint serves as the truly unique means of identification, simply because each person has a different print. So you can only imagine the troubles that this family in Bangladesh is going through for not having fingerprints.

Because of a rare genetic mutation called Adermatoglyphia, which only affects a small number of people, 22-year-old Apu Sarker and the rest of the men in his family have smooth finger pads, without the unique lines and ridges that one with fingerprints has.

At least four generations of Apu’s family has the condition. His grandfather didn’t face much trouble with having no fingerprints, but it was a different story with Apu and his father Amal.

In Bangladesh and pretty much everywhere else in the world, providing fingerprints is a must to obtain National ID cards, driver’s licenses, and passports. Amal, of course, had problems getting these three documents. Eventually, he was given an ID card with “NO FINGERPRINT” stamped on it, for him to use in voting.

He was also given a passport after he presented a medical certificate. But he has yet to use it because of his fears of encountering problems at the airport. As for driver’s license, he has yet to be issued one, despite passing the exam and paying the fee for it.

Amal said that he always carries proof of his payment, but he was still fined after being stopped by the police, who could not understand his situation even after he showed them his fingerprint-free hands.

Apu’s younger brother Anu also has the same condition.

As for buying sim cards, Apu said that the men in the family had to use his mother’s since they couldn’t buy their own.

“They seemed confused when I went to buy a Sim, their software kept freezing every time I put my finger on the sensor,” Apu told the BBC.

A dermatologist has diagnosed the Sarker family with congenital palmoplantar keratoderma. Professor Peter Itin, a Swiss dermatologist, believed that this condition may have developed into secondary Adermatoglyphia. It’s a version of the disease that comes with reduced sweating on hands and feet, as well as dry skin. The Sarkers reported to have these symptoms.

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