All mixed up: Randy Foye's insides are a rare blend

Mixing it up: You can't tell by looking at him on the court, but Minnesota Timberwolves guard Randy Foye has a rare medical condition. It's situs inversus, a condition where his internal organs are in the opposite orientation of most people. His liver is on his left side, his stomach on his right and his heart tips slightly to the right.
Mixing it up: You can't tell by looking at him on the court, but Minnesota Timberwolves guard Randy Foye has a rare medical condition. It's situs inversus, a condition where his internal organs are in the opposite orientation of most people. His liver is on his left side, his stomach on his right and his heart tips slightly to the right.

Timberwolves basketball player Randy Foye will have a ready-made excuse if he ever makes a hoop in the wrong basket.

After all, he’s all mixed up inside. He’s one of the rare people walking this Earth with situs inversus. That’s the scientific name for the condition of having your organs reversed inside of your body.

While most of us have our heart slightly to the left of the center of our chest, Randy’s heart is slightly toward the right. Likewise, his liver is on his left and his stomach is on his right. Most of us have those organs on the opposite sides of our body.

Randy’s medical mix-up was featured in a cover story on Tuesday’s Star-Tribune. And for as great a basketball player that he’s been – he was the Wolves’ No. 1 draft choice this past spring after being named the Big East Player of the Year last year as a senior at Villanova – he was sweating out if his condition was going to cost him a chance to play pro basketball.

In the story, he told how he was able to pass all the on-court tests of his talents with flying colors during the pre-draft camps. But when the medical tests came back showing that his insides were turned around, the experts had to get a quick education on situs inversus.

I had never heard of the condition myself until working in the Body Worlds exhibition this summer. There, a number of people told me that they had the condition, or knew of someone who had it. Actually, it impacts about 1 in 10,000 people.

For the most part, people with situs inversus lead a perfectly normal life. The only hang-up can come if they suffer some other malady, and their doctor doesn’t know they have situs inversus. For instance, if Randy Foye suffers an attack of appendicitis, his pain will be in his left abdomen, not his right.

As a pro, Randy has been showing progress, including hitting the game-winning shot as time expired against the Chicago Bulls last night. But if things ever go bad and the coaches question if his heart is really in the right spot, I guess he’ll have a great reply!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Although I don't see what the real concern would be with his health regarding this condition, all his organs are healthy and in working order, just placed in reverse. And his prowess on the court is just as uneffected as his health. But a person with this annatomical anomaly (I hesitate to call it a "condition", he's not sick from it) may want to consider getting some sort of tag, or Medicalert(?) bracelet stating that he has situs inversus. If he were to come down with a condition like appendicitis, or if he were to be in a serious accident and be incapacitated, a doctor will need to know about this right away.

posted on Thu, 12/28/2006 - 11:37am
bryan kennedy's picture

I had a friend in high school who "suffered" from this condition. And just like you suggested, he wore a MedicAlert bracelet at all times that described the issue in case of emergency.

posted on Fri, 12/29/2006 - 3:05am
Izzi's picture
Izzi says:

I am doing a report on situs Inversus. and I am coming to find that it is a very rare disorder. I dont understand however, how it could effect his ball playing. because it is said that most people with this disorder lead completely normal lives. I just dont seem to understand.

posted on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:18am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a seven year old daughter that has situs inversus. The only hang up is that her heart remained on the left side of her chest making this an even more rare condition (affecting only 1 in 22,000 people). Finding information about the disease where the heart remains on the left side is hard so if anyone reading this has any helpful information please let me know.

posted on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 3:38pm
tee's picture
tee says:

I am one of those few people with this disorder and I do have other medical problems. As a child I found out about it and whenever I was ill or put in the hospital for any reason and I let the doctors know that was treating me at the time that I have situs inversus they looked at me as if i made it all up so its has been hard for me to get them to believe me. But now I finally now know that I'm not all alone in this world because I never meet anyone else with situs inversus. (And yes we need to educate more about situs inversus just for future references.)

posted on Sun, 02/03/2008 - 8:42pm
katey new's picture
katey new says:

my name is katey new i am a 16 year old girl from a small town in alabama. i have situs inversus and it is complete which means my heart is completly turned around. i was born with many problems and had to have chest x-rays that is when they discovered my condition. i have known about this ever since i was born and have never had any problems.
i love being unique and having this rare condition and in my case i am just a little bit more unique because in 2003 they found out that my spinal cord split into two spinal cords at the bottom. lol!!! i have a;ways been dying to meet someone else with this that is close to alabama let me know!!! THANKS!

posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:33pm
kimberly's picture
kimberly says:


posted on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 9:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I just found out that my 8 year old daughter has Situs Inversus. The doctor's want to check her heart to make sure has three valves instead of two. What if she has two? I'm so confussed and in shock. I just need as much feed back as possible for I can have a peace of mind. Thanks!!

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 9:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am 26 and just found out last year that I have situs inversus after having an ultrasound to look at my gallbladder (which wasn't where they thought it was, along with all of my organs). I had previously had chest Xrays, so the doctors went back to look at those and realized my heart was on the anatomically right side and apparently the chest xrays had just been being flipped for the past 25 years. Note to medical providers: keep an eye out for the right/left markers on the Xray--my condition could have been diagnosed many years ago following chest xrays. Fortunately, I do not have any of the cardiac abnormalities or other problems associated with situs inversus, but it could have been a problem if any major accidents or other medical problems had developed. Overall, I like having situs inversus because it is unique, without really affecting my health=-)

posted on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 7:47am
Seth Canter's picture
Seth Canter says:

My name is Seth Canter, im 16 and i have situs inversus. I lead a perfectly normal life. I have been in many incidents where i have been injured and havent been able to talk so i would definitly recommend a medicalert bracelet from!

posted on Mon, 05/11/2009 - 5:50pm

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