A teenage girl who suffered from “Rapunzel syndrome,” an extremely rare intestinal condition that results from ingesting hair, has died after eating her own hair. It was reported this week on LincolnshireLive.com.
Jasmine Beever, of Skegness in the United Kingdom, was hospitalized on Sept. 7. Jasmine suffered from peritonitis, where the thin membrane that covers the stomach wall becomes inflamed due to a fungal or bacterial infection. In her case, it was caused by a hairball in her stomach, which led to a burst ulcer in her stomach that caused her organs to shut down.
Rapunzel, in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, lets down her hair through the window of a tower so a prince can climb up and save her. The namesake medical condition ensues when a person eats hairs and they become tangled and trapped in the victim’s stomach—forming a hair ball, which usually has a “tail” that extends into the small intestine.
Specifically, it’s caused by a psychiatric disorder where people swallow their hair, according to LiveScience. It’s known as trichophagia, which is related to the slightly more common syndrome, trichotillomania, where people have a compulsion to pull out their own hair.
“Jasmine was amazing,” Donna Marshall, the mother of the teen’s best friend, told LicolnshireLive. “She was one of those kids where she would make a sad face in the room smile. She was so bubbly.”
“We are extremely upset but we want to thank everybody for all they have done for the family,” Beever’s parents noted, according to LicolnshireLive.
In 2016, another case of Rapunzel syndrome was reported. A 38-year-old woman was forced to get surgery to remove a hairball, known as a “trichobezoar,” which measured a few inches in diameter. According to the Conversation, citing the journal BMJ Case Reports, it was the 89th instance of Rapunzel syndrome that was recorded. Unlike Jasmine, that woman was able to make a full recovery. “Both trichophagia and pica have been found to occur in people with iron deficiency. In some case reports of Rapunzel syndrome, hair pulling and hair eating stopped after the person was treated for iron deficiency or coeliac disease,” the report said.
In the 1700’s, French doctor M. Baudamant appears to describe the condition in a 16-year-old boy.
In an extreme case, surgeons were forced to remove a nearly 10-pound hair ball (trichobezoar) from the stomach of an 18-year-old woman, according to the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007. “On questioning, the patient stated that she had had a habit of eating her hair for many years,” the Journal noted.
A Just Giving page (similar to GoFundMe) was set up for Jasmine to help her family.
“Anyone that knew Jasmine knew what a Wonderful, Caring girl she was. She had a real zest for Life. There was never a gloomy face around Jaz because she would go out of her way to make you smile. Even people she didn’t know. She would always offer a helping hand for anyone that was struggling or offer her shoulder and a hug to anyone that was having a bad day,” the page reads.