The Short of It
Kavita Kumari, a 15-year-old girl in India, had complained of severe abdominal pain, bloating and the inability to eat without throwing up for some time, but it wasn't until her condition became life threatening that doctors realized the teen had a 5-foot-long hairball inside her stomach.
Rapunzel Syndrome sounds cute, but it's not. It's when indigestible material accumulates in the stomach and small intestines creating a large mass. In Kavita's case, the huge build-up was made of hair.
Kavita suffers from Trichotillomania, which means she would often pluck at her own hair—and also friends' and relatives'. But no one realized she was also eating it.
That is, until her father brought her to the hospital with intense stomach pain. The girl couldn't even hold down water.
"Kavita had come to us with complaints of extreme pain in the stomach. She was in a very serious condition," Dr. Lal Bahadur Sidharth, the girl's surgeon, told the Mirror. "She was malnourished and very weak. She was barely able to stand on her own."
Doctors were worried Kavita wouldn't make it through the two-hour surgery, but thankfully she did. The hairball—at 5 feet—was even larger than doctors had expected. (There's a video of the removal on the Mirror's site, but I recommend just sticking to reading the story.)
Kavita is expected to be able to eat properly soon and to make a full recovery. She'll be counseled at the hospital for her Trichotillomania. Sadly, her mother won't admit she has a psychological disorder. I hope the teen gets the psychological treatment after her discharge that she needs to overcome the disorder that caused her life-threatening condition.
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