Shiloh Pepin: The Life and Death of the World’s Only Real Mermaid



In mythology, mermaids have existed for around 3,000n years. The most popular tale is Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Written in 1836. Sailors from all over the world have long reported sighting the fascinating creatures in the water on their travels.

As for modern-day mermaid stories, there is only one that springs to mind, that of Shiloh Pepin.

Shiloh was one of only three people in the world known to have survived with sirenomelia, or “mermaid syndrome.” Mermaid syndrome is is where the legs are fused together from birth.

Usually the rare condition is fatal in newborns due to kidney and bladder complications. Shiloh, however, defied all the the odds. She was only two years old when she had her first kidney transplant, which was followed by more than 150 surgeries during her lifetime. Shiloh spent her entire life under doctors’ care.

“She was missing a whole series of organs including her uterus and her bladder, and her large intestine,” Dr. Matthew Hand, a kidney specialist, told 20/20 in 2008. “She had no vaginal vault or rectum, and no way for urine to get out of her body. Most of these babies die because of poor renal tissue makeup in their body.”

Despite suffering from one of the most lethal conditions, the 10-year-old was an infectiously cheerful and animated child.

The world’s only real mermaid died back in 2009 from pneumonia. The cause of her disease is unknown.

Watch this video for more on her story. It’s a long one, so come back to it if you don’t have the time, it’s fascinating and she will inspire you.

H/T: First To Know

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