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'Mermaid' girl born with her legs fused together dies aged 10

Posted on 8:10 AM by Sameer Shah

An American girl who was born with a rare condition often called 'mermaid syndrome' that meant her legs were fused together, has died aged 10.

Doctors said Shiloh Pepin was only likely to survive for hours, possibly days after her birth, but she exceeded all expectations.

The girl died at Maine Medical Centre on Friday afternoon, hospital spokesman John Lamb said. She had been hospitalised there in critical condition for nearly a week.



Shiloh had gained a wide following on the internet and U.S. television and her story was featured recently on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Being born with 'mermaid syndrome,' also known as sirenomelia, meant that the girl from Kennebunkport in Maine had only one partially working kidney, no lower colon or genital organs and legs fused from the waist down.

Some children who have survived sirenomelia have had surgery to separate their legs, but Shiloh did not because blood vessels crossing from side to side in her circulatory system would have been severed.

She had received two kidney transplants, the last one in 2007.

Earlier this month, her mother, Leslie Pepin, said her daughter came down with a cold that quickly turned to pneumonia.

Shiloh was rushed to Maine Medical Center on October 10 and was placed on antibiotics and a ventilator.

For a while, Leslie Pepin said, things were looking up. 'She's a tough little thing,' she said of her daughter earlier this week.

Shiloh was a fifth-grader at Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

Maureen King, chairwoman of the board of the regional school district, said: 'She was such a shining personality in that building.'

Counselors will be available next week to talk to students.

Through the television shows, news articles, Facebook and other Web sites, Shiloh inspired many.

'I live in Iowa. I have cerebral palsy. I love your video,' 12-year-old Lydia Dawley wrote to Shiloh on Facebook.

'You have a great personality I wish you lived close so we could be friends and hang out. You opened my eyes because you are so brave.'

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