Parents, if your child complains about a stomach ache every single day over the course of six weeks, it might be time to take them to the doctor. This was the situation for two negligent parents in Shenzhen, China. Their seven-year-old daughter, Shishi, was suffering from not only a stomach ache, but a strange rash and yellow eyes. Finally, after concluding that she was not faking her complaints, she was rushed to the Shenzhen Children’s Hospital where doctors discovered a rock-like structure in her stomach that required immediate surgery. That rock-like structure was actually over nine pounds of human hair, dirt, and plastic that had solidified over the course of the previous year.

Hairball x-ray

X-rays showed the obstruction had swollen the size of Shishi’s stomach to over half of its normal size. Upon discussing the situation with her parents, doctors learned that the seven-year-old had a habit of eating a variety of objects. In her short life, Shishi had shown a strong desire to eat wood, dirt, hair, plastic, finger nails, and toothbrush bristles. In fact, her eating disorder, known as Pica, was so intense that she would eat the finger nail clippings of her parents and would consume the fur from their two dogs. As a result, the dogs were set free into the neighborhood and her parents refrained from cutting their finger nails in the home.

Hairball in stomach picture

However, despite these efforts to combat Shishi’s Pica, the enterprising young girl began to eat her own hair, while still consuming toothbrush bristles. Her parents began trimming her hair short, but over the course of the three years that she’s suffered from this disorder, she continued to eat her own hair. According to family members, Shishi understands she shouldn’t eat her own hair, but it is a compulsion that she can’t control. All of this explains that big, black mass of mostly hair in her stomach that stared back at the doctors who put a scope down her throat to survey the obstruction.

Bowl with hair, dirt, and plastic

Following the surgery, which lasted a little over an hour, Shishi is expected to make a full recovery. Doctors presented the girl with a bowl of the hair, plastic, and dirt mixture as a reminder that she needs to fight against her Pica compulsion since similar occurrences as she grows older will have long-term ramifications on her digestive tract and longevity.


Pammy Lin

Pammy Lin

I'm a travel writer based in Washington state. I'm on the road over 200 days every year and have visited over 70 countries.