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Uploaded on Nov 18, 2008

Against all odds, Shiloh Pepin of Portland, Maine turned 8 years old in August 2007. She was born with Mermaid Syndrome, or Sirenomelia, one of the rarest conditions known to man. This condition means the foetus fails to develop normally below the waist, resulting in a fusion of the lower limbs. Of the few foetuses that actually make it to birth, most die within hours of leaving the womb.

Although there are thought to be five known survivors worldwide - Shiloh is the only one not to have had her legs separated by surgery. Having only one, partially-working kidney, no lower colon and no genital organs, such an operation up until now has been too dangerous for her. Her plucky character and determination have so far seen her through - she even plays football and attends dance classes. But she's now entering the most risky and challenging time of her life.

Her pediatrician, Dr Matt Hand, knows that if she's to survive, she will eventually need her legs separated. It's an operation that has divided the family: mother Leslie wants the separation to go ahead, while father Elmer and Shiloh herself are reluctant. This compelling and heart-warming documentary follows the family as they contemplate the surgery that could change Shiloh's life forever.

Five's Extraordinary People Strand
1 x 60mins

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