Doctors recently removed a five foot hairball from the stomach of a 15-year-old girl in India.
Kavita Kumari was taken to hospital by her parents after she became increasingly weak and lost her appetite. Doctors diagnosed her with Rapunzel Syndrome, a rare psychological condition which causes an individual to eat their own hair, and that of others. The hair becomes trapped in the digestive tract as it cannot be broken down by the body.
“She was so weak that we had assumed she would not survive another day,” commented Phool Devi, the girl’s mother, according to Daily Mail. “We did not know she was in the habit of eating hair. Though I noticed many times that she plucked (sic) couple of strands from my hair and even her classmates told me she did the same with them. But I never took it seriously as I thought she was plucking their hair to tease them. I had no idea she was apparently eating hair.”
The problem developed over a year, and the hairball ended up being so big that it caused her stomach to swell.
“We noticed she had not been eating properly - and whatever she ate, she would just throw it up,” Devi continued. “She would also complain of severe abdominal pain and was even unable to digest water. She was getting weaker with each passing day. We had taken her to several local doctors but none could find out the real problem.”
When Dr. Lal Bahadur Sidharth identified the hairball at the hospital, he advised Kumari’s parents that their daughter may not survive surgery.
“Kavita had come to us with complaints of extreme pain in the stomach,” he stated. “She was in a very serious condition, malnourished and very weak. She was barely able to stand on her own.”
With the hairball now removed, Kavita will be able to eat again. She will also be given counseling to help overcome her psychological difficulties.
“I’m so thankful to the doctors for saving her life,” Devi said.