A mother of two died soon after using something that thousands of people use every day: hair dye.
Julie McCabe, 39, suffered from unexplained rashes and ailments for years before her death. She visited general physicians over 20 times for her issues, but each time was only given creams and ointments to soothe her rashes. No doctor ever diagnosed the underlying cause behind them, Mirror reports.
Then, in October 2011, McCabe fell into a coma shortly after coloring her hair with L'Oreal hair dye. The severe allergic reaction caused heart failure and brain damage. Over a year later, while still in a coma in the hospital, she passed away.
Now, her family is determined to find out how none of the doctors she saw ever warned her about her allergy. To make matters worse, emergency room physicians were quickly able to identify the cause of her reaction after she was checked into the hospital.
Dr. Sean Emmott, a physician testifying at McCabe’s court inquiry, says it’s clear that paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical in hair dyes, was behind her severe reaction. When asked why doctors never warned her about using hair dye, Dr. Emmott gave a peculiar response.
"It would be stating the obvious to tell her to stop,” he said.
He said he’s surprised nonetheless that no doctor ever explicitly told her to stop coloring her hair.
"I find it inconceivable, given the number of doctors she saw, that nobody told her to stop using the hair dye,” he said.
While PPD allergies are relatively common, reactions as severe as McCabe’s are not, according to Dr. Shaiv Nasser, an allergy expert from Cambridge University Hospital NHS Trust.
Testifying coroner Geoff Fell says it’s one of only two PPD deaths he’s ever encountered.
“As far as I'm aware,” Fell said, “Julie's death is only the second one which has occurred as a result of a hair colorant - certainly in this country."