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Keywords:

  • hemophilia;
  • Tsarevich Alexei Nicolaievich;
  • Rasputin;
  • mtDNA;
  • purpura;
  • splenomegaly;
  • thrombocytopenia;
  • childhood illness;
  • hemolytic anemia;
  • spontaneous healing

Abstract

The only son of Russia's last Tsar, a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, continues to be used as the favorite example of the X-linked inheritance of hemophilia, in spite of the fact that this popular historical diathesis has never been confirmed by any form of modern medical laboratory testing. Certain to be controversial, a new study of the symptoms that were witnessed by those who were closest to the teenaged Russian heir now raises the possibility that his blood disorder might well have been something other than hemophilia. The key to discovering Tsarevich Alexei's true diagnosis is found in those now legendary allegations that the infamous “Mad Monk”, Grigory Rasputin, had possessed a power of healing that was somehow responsible for the young boy's mysterious history of spontaneous recoveries. If we are to accept the popular diagnosis of history and call it a clotting factor deficiency, then the boy's now famous sudden recoveries will remain a complete mystery. The so-called “Mad Monk” Rasputin, as a direct result of the revolutionary propaganda of the time, is then overblown into a larger-than-life legend. If, however, we are to change the diagnosis and call it a platelet disorder, then the air is let out of the legend, and Rasputin is revealed to have been nothing more than a very ordinary middle-aged Siberian hippie who did not possess any healing powers at all. Am. J. Hematol. 77:92–102, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.