WEB EXCLUSIVE

How the Heck Did a Woman Become Fused to a Toilet Seat?

(Hard bones + soft tissue) x one month of immobility = extremely bad news

By Lizzie Buchen|Friday, March 14, 2008
RELATED TAGS: INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Domestic disputes don’t generally make world headlines, but when they result in a woman’s buttocks attaching to a toiletseat, they tend to draw a bit more attention. After fighting with her boyfriend, 35-year old Pam Babcock locked herself in the bathroom of the couple’s mobile home and refused to leave… for the next two years. When her boyfriend, Kory McFarren, finally called the authorities to report that “there was something wrong with his girlfriend,” they found that she was physically stuck to the toilet seat—her skin had not only attached but, according to the initial reports, appeared to have “grown around” the seat. The cops eventually pried the seat off the toilet with a crowbar and sent the woman—seat attached—to a hospital in Wichita,where they were finally separated.

So how did this happen?

The woman probably became fused to the seat because of skin-penetrating wounds that developed on her behind. Such pressure sores, also known as bedsores, are lesions caused by sustained pressure to the body. In this case, the woman’s skin and underlying tissues became trapped between the ischium—the butt bone—and the toilet seat, cutting off blood flow and causing the affected tissue to become necrotic—i.e., to die. Such sores tend to be quite painful, enough that she probably stopped moving to minimize the pain. After being rooted in one position for long enough (the sheriff estimated at least three to four weeks of continuous sitting), the lesions became open sores, and eventually extended to the tissue below the skin. But the body persistently tries to heal, and as the wounds attempted to scab over, they actually scabbed onto the seat, fusing her down.

These deep wounds became infected, damaging the nerves in her legs; according to doctors at the Wichita hospital, this injury may confine her to a wheelchair. The situation may have also been exacerbated if she was perspiring, as excess moisture softens the skin and makes it more vulnerable to infection.

As for the skin supposedly “growing around” the seat, this aspect is probably more an issue of the sof ttissue under the skin molding to the toilet seat, as opposed to the actual skin. Since she was completely immobile, the muscle underwent severe atrophy, leaving her with extra skin and soft tissue which, flaccid from disuse ,conformed to the contours of the seat.

Discover thanks Dr. Elizabeth Rugg of the University of California, Irvine, and Diana Camarillo of the University of California, San Francisco.

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