Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
February 16, 2024 ·  2 min read

Hirschsprung’s Disease: How One Man Had 30 Lbs of Feces Removed from Colon

Every once in a while, we let our healthy daily diets escape us. So we up getting backed up and have some trouble going to the bathroom for maybe a day or two. But even then, the bloating, discomfort, and abdominal pain can be unbearable. That’s why we were blown away to hear about someone who had been backed up for 22 years!

A 23-year-old Chinese man named Zhou Hai had nearly 30 pounds of feces removed from his body after it became impacted in his colon. After complaining about abdominal pain that was making it hard for him to breath or talk, he made his way to the hospital. Once he was admitted and had a CT scan, it revealed that his colon was filled with exactly 28.6 pounds of feces! Over, over the course of two decades, it had caused it to become extremely inflamed and distended. (1)

“It looked like it could explode at any time,” said Yin Lu of Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, he and others performed the surgery. (2)

Thankfully, the doctors said he would have no problem recovering. The successful surgery, which took about three hours, allowed Hai to get rid of the 30-inch, 30-pound part of his colon that doctors say was caused by Hirschsprung’s disease.

Surgeons save constipated man’s life by removing 13kg of faeces

— AsiaOne (@sphasiaone) June 12, 2017

What Is Hirschsprung’s Disease?

Although it’s not clear what exactly causes this disease, it seems to be hereditary and in some cases may be due to a genetic mutation. The condition is also more common in males, and in those with other inherited conditions such as Down’s syndrome and congenital heart disease. Hirschsprung’s disease affects the large intestine (i.e., colon) in a way that prevents bowel movements. Babies who are born with this condition are missing nerve cells in the muscles of their colon and often fail to have a bowel movement in the first 48 hours of birth.

However, if left untreated, as in Hai’s cause, it can cause a “mega colon,” or abnormal dilation of the colon. Thankfully, doctors can safely treat Hirschsprung’s disease performing an operation to remove the affected part of the colon.

Related: 5 Reasons to Cleanse Your Colon, Jump Start Weight Loss, and Encourage Whole Body Detox

Most Common Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s Disease

In addition to the absence of bowel movements in their first couple of days of life, other symptoms may include: (3)

  • Swollen belly
  • Vomiting, including vomiting a green or brown substance
  • Constipation or gas
  • Diarrhea

Some signs of Hirschsprung’s disease in older kids can also include:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Gas
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fatigue

Why Did Zhou Hai Suffer with Hirschsprung’s Disease for So Long?

For 22 years, Hai suffered to varying degrees because of his faulty colon (and also because his parents thought it was a minor ailment). According to AsiaOne, Hai had been experiencing constipation since birth and relied on laxatives to help him use the bathroom and alleviate any discomfort. Still, they weren’t enough to clear out his colon.