Oprah’s “mermaid girl” Shiloh Pepin dies at 10

Shiloh Pepin, the young girl born with sirenomelia who has appeared on Oprah as recently as last month died after a week-long hopsitalization.

Shiloh was also featured on a TLC documentary entitled Mermaid Girl and won over the Oprah audience due to her candor and positive personality. Sirenomelia, also known as “mermaid syndrome,” is a rare congenital defect resulting from decreased blood flow from the lower aorta in utero. Afflicted children are born with their legs fused together. The condition is usually fatal, and Shiloh Pepin is one of a handful of sirenomelia sufferers to survive infancy.

Shiloh was hospitalized for the past week in critical condition from an illness that stemmed from a cold, and later passed away at Maine Medical Center. Shiloh’s life, albeit short, seems to have left a lasting impression on fans and friends:

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