ST. GEORGE — From the outside, Scott Berryessa looks totally normal. But on the inside, he is completely mixed up and incredibly rare.
Berryessa has a genetic condition relatively unknown because of how few people are diagnosed with it. His condition is called situs inversus, "which means I'm a mirror image of everybody else," he said.
But he's living the good life. He's retired and spends half the year in sunny St. George. He and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for five years. When they were dating, Marilyn Berryessa learned pretty quickly that his heart just wasn’t in the right place — literally.
“I could hear his heart on the right side,” she said.
That makes him unlike pretty much unlike anyone else. His heart is not only in the wrong place, but all his other major organs are as well.
“It’s about one in 50 million,” he said, speaking about how many people are diagnosed with the condition. He didn’t know he had the condition until a doctor diagnosed him with it at 23.
“It was a shock, and I asked him if I was going to have some problems because of it and he told me I probably wouldn’t because I had made it this far,” he said.
Most people born with the condition die at a young age. They certainly don’t play tennis in their retirement community.
“About 5 to 13 percent don’t live past the age of five,” Berryessa said. He's now 70 years old and not slowing down one bit.
“(My condition) is a great conversation piece when I tell people,” he said with a laugh. “If you put an X-ray up of you and turn it around, it would look like me.”
One of the funniest questions he gets asked is where he places his hand during the pledge of allegiance. “Yeah, it’s pretty weird I guess,” he said.
He and his wife are planning for many more healthy years together, but he eventually plans to leave his body to science.
“I think they’d be interested in cutting me open,” he said.
While he’s still living, he plans to prove what’s on the inside (at least for him) doesn’t really count. “To me, it’s just normal life and it’s wonderful,” he said.