A mother who collapsed and stopped breathing minutes after applying a home hair dye kit was in a coma last night and has been given only an 8 per cent chance of survival.
Julie McCabe, 38, may have suffered a severe allergic reaction to a chemical in the L’Oreal Preference product.
She remained on a life support machine last night, three weeks after she used the dye, as her family continued a bedside vigil.
Doctors have warned her devastated husband Russell that even if she survives she will almost certainly be permanently brain-damaged.
No definitive link has yet been made with the L’Oreal product but doctors caring for Mrs McCabe, an estate agent, have asked for the kit and gloves she used so they can carry out tests.
L’Oreal has offered to assist the medical staff with any information that may help save Mrs McCabe’s life.
It is feared the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) – present in 99 per cent of all hair dyes – may be linked to her condition.
Her family, who say she dyed her hair every six weeks and had never experienced any reaction previously, is now considering legal action.
They have contacted a solicitor representing others who have suffered reactions to PPD.
Mrs McCabe’s case comes less than a month after Tabatha McCourt, 17, collapsed and died following a violent fit that struck her 20 minutes after she coloured her hair.
An investigation is continuing to establish the exact cause of her death.
Coma: Mrs McCabe is on a life support machine at Airedale General Hospital, Yorkshire. She has been given only an 8 per cent chance of recovery
Last night, Mrs McCabe’s father spoke of the moment she collapsed after applying the product to re-dye her brunette hair at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, on October 30.
Keith Miller, 63, said she was rinsing the dye off after the recommended 20 minutes when she began struggling for breath.
Doctors caring for Mrs McCabe, an estate agent, have asked for the L'Oreal hair dye kit and gloves she used
‘She told her husband, “I don’t feel well, I can’t breathe”,’ he said.
‘He rushed her to hospital and her heart stopped beating on the way. At A&E doctors cleared her airway and got her heart restarted but her brain was starved of oxygen for God knows how long.
‘She’s now in a coma. The doctors have more or less said the condition she is in now is most likely how she will stay. They are not giving us much hope. It’s hard to take in.’
Mrs McCabe had used the L’Oreal product in the past, he added. He also believes she did a skin test before using the dye, in accordance with the manufacturer’s advice.
But he is convinced the chemical PPD has caused his daughter’s condition and is now calling for it to be banned from home hair dye kits.
He said: ‘I promise for the sake of my daughter and other women to get this chemical outlawed in Britain.
BANNED IN FRANCE
PPD is banned in France, Germany and Sweden, and a U.S. study has linked exposure to it to increased rates of bladder cancer. Under EU rules, in Britain it can constitute 6 per cent of a hair dye.
It is a colourless compound but it achieves a rich colour when it reacts with oxygen contained in ingredients in hair dye, such as hydrogen peroxide.
The chemical is used in many permanent hair dyes because it binds firmly to the hair and does not wash out.
Allergy to it is rare, affecting one in 250,000 people, and in most cases the effect is a mild rash. But reactions can be severe, causing serious skin irritations or even anaphylaxis.
An allergic reaction does not necessarily start the first time a product is used. It can happen after several uses.
Dye users are told to do a ‘patch test’, applying a small amount of it to their skin 48 hours before treatment every time they use it.
'I don’t want this happening to anybody else’s daughter or wife.’
Mrs McCabe’s mother Brenda Miller, 60, said: ‘PPD builds up in your system over time and this is what has caused a reaction in Julie.
‘The doctors have shaved her head so no more PPD can get into her through her scalp.’
Mrs McCabe’s son, Luke, 20, and 15-year-old daughter Abigail, are both struggling to come to terms with what has happened.
‘They’re sort of in a trance,’ added Mr Miller.
‘Their mum is there one minute and the next she’s in hospital with pipes coming out of her nose.’
The family have since been in contact with a hair and scalp specialist who claims that an allergy to hair dye increases as a result of cumulative exposure to PPD.
A L’Oreal spokesman said: ‘L’Oreal was extremely concerned to hear about this serious situation.
‘We do not know the details of the case so it would be inappropriate for us to comment further, however we will do everything we can to assist this lady’s family and medical team with information they might need to establish what happened.
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