A British teenager's toilet phobia appears to have cost her her life. The 16-year-old girl suffered a heart attack after going without a bowel movement for eight weeks, reports the Independent. Authorities say her chronic constipation resulted in distended organs and a compressed chest cavity, factors that contributed to her cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealed a "massive extension of the large bowel," says the pathologist who examined Emily Titterington. It was "like nothing I have seen before—it was dramatic." The teen was mildly autistic and had a lifelong history of what Medical Daily calls "stool withholding," a behavior that usually passes after early childhood.
Emily's mother said she had been pleading with her daughter before her death to have a thorough medical exam, but the teen refused. The family doctor had prescribed laxatives but acknowledges that he didn't examine the girl's abdomen. A paramedic who responded to Emily's home the night of her death—it was actually the second call by her parents that night—found the teen's abdomen "grossly extended." One doctor not involved with the case tells People that "there's more than meets the eye here." The teen "probably had some electrolyte abnormality, or a cardiac arrhythmia from something else." (An author has advice on how the rest of us can poop better.)