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Girl Must Digest Brain Fluid To Stay Alive

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Girl Must Digest Brain Fluid To Stay Alive

A teenage girl with rare brain condition must digest brain fluid in her stomach to stay alive…

A teenage girl who suffers from a rare condition which causes fluid to build up in her skull has been cure by a rather unconventional procedure.

Because of her condition, Melissa Peacock, 17, endured years of frequent migraines due to the pressure exerted on her brain by the excess fluid.

melissa peacock intracranial hypertension

Melissa Peacock

But now, with a pipe connected between her skull and stomach, Peacock is able to digest her excess brain fluid in her stomach.

Peacock was first diagnosed with the condition, known as Intracranial Hypertension, when mother Carolynne noticed that her daughter was unable to walk straight. At the time Melissa was just 9.

At first, doctors were worried that she may be suffering from a brain tumor because of the pain she was experiencing. However scans quickly revealed her rare condition.

By the time it came to operate, Melissa had been experience bouts of blurry vision in the left eye as the fluid built up against her optic nerve.

‘It felt like I was constantly trying to see through a steamed-up window. Sometimes I’d have almost no vision at all…

‘I went to the cinema once with my friends and ended up in A&E after I tripped on the stairs – I just couldn’t see where I was going. [Daily Mail]

Doctors believed that a simple procedure, in which surgeons puncture her spine to drain excess fluid, would be sufficient to reduce her symptoms. But it wasn’t long before the fluid had collected again.

Mellissa was to undergo a further 8 operations before doctors made the decision to perform the more drastic surgery.

x-ray of pipe that drains fluid from brain

X-Ray Of Melissa Brain

‘I was a bit shocked when I realized exactly what the doctors were planning on doing,’ Melissa said:

‘The pain was just unbearable at times, so I agreed to go ahead with the operation…

‘Before, there were weeks at a time where I just couldn’t get out of bed because of the pain – and even when I did, I couldn’t do all the things my friends did.’ [Daily Mail]

Now, a tube which carries excess fluid from her skull to her stomach to be digested along with her food has relieved her symptoms and potentially saved her life.

Melissa said:

‘My friends think the fact that I digest fluid from my brain is a bit weird – but my quality of life is so much better since I had the shunt put in place, I don’t care…

‘People often struggle to understand what exactly is wrong with me. Because I don’t look ill, some people think I make it all up…

‘It has been a long journey but I can start to get on with the rest of my life now…

‘I am studying photography at college now and hope I can go on to live a life that isn’t controlled by my condition.’ [Daily Mail]


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  1. Unknown: Teenage girl can only control rare brain condition by digesting her own spinal fluid. Daily Mail, 09/30/2010.

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