A mother of two, 39-year-old Julie McCabe, fell into a coma and later died after using a product which thousands of people use on a daily basis: hair dye.
McCabe suffered from unexplained rashes and ailments for years prior to hear death. Concerned with what ailed her, she visited general physicians anywhere from 16-20 times within six years, but none of the doctors diagnosed the underlying cause behind the rashes and gave her ointments and creams to soothe them instead, according to a Mirror report.
In October, 2011, after doctors failed to diagnose the cause of her concerns, she fell into a coma after coloring her hair with L’Oreal hair dye. An allergic reaction to the hair dye not only caused her heart to stop, but induced brain damage. A year later, still in a coma, she finally passed away.
Her family is now determined to understand how none of the doctors she visited warned her about her allergy, as emergency room physicians were quickly able to identify the cause of her reaction shortly after she was checked into the hospital.
Dr. Sean Emmott, a physician who is scheduled to testify at the court inquiry into the woman’s death, says that it’s evident a chemical in hair dyes known as paraphenylenediamine (PPD) was behind her severe allergic reaction. When asked why doctors never warned McCabe about her using hair dye, Emmott responded that telling her to stop would be “stating the obvious” and he found it “inconceivable, given the number of doctors she saw, that nobody told her to stop” administering the hair dye.
PPD allergies are relatively common. However, severe reactions such as McCabe’s are uncommon, according to an allergy expert at Cambridge University Hospital NHS Trust, Dr. Shaiv Nasser.
Geoff Fell, the coroner testifying at the inquiry into her death, said that this is only one of two PPD deaths he’s ever encountered.
“As far as I’m aware, Julie’s death is only the second one which has occurred as a result of a hair colorant — certainly in this country.”
Mrs. McCabe was rinsing the dye out of her hair when she suddenly screamed loudly and then said to her husband in a gasp that she was “struggling to breathe” and that she thought she was “going to die.” Twelve months later, she died without ever having regained consciousness from the coma she fell into that day.
“Russell, I’m struggling to breathe, I think I’m going to die.”
After his wife said these words, her 47-year-old husband Russell dialed emergency services but ended up driving his wife the three miles to Airedale Hospital in Keighley after becoming impatient with the emergency operator. He was quoted by the Daily Mail as having said that he “went outside and discovered Julie was on her hands and knees in the driveway, gasping for breath” and that he thought she was simply “having a severe asthma attack.”
His wife lost consciousness during the short ride from their home in Cowling, North Yorkshire.
Within seconds of her arrival at the hospital, medics were busy working on her, but she had already suffered a major cardiac arrest from which she never recovered.
The incident occurred in October of 2011. She remained in a coma until November of 2012, when she passed away. The cause of death was listed as cardiorespiratory arrest as a result of severe brain damage.
Why do you think doctors failed to warn Julie McCabe of her hair dye allergy?