Courts

Wednesday 30 July 2014

‘Families who have children with anorexia, they should stick with them’

Inquest into death of Eva Keoghan

Gareth Naughton

Published 14/04/2014|15:35

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Coroner Dr Brian Farrell

THE father of a woman who died from chronic anorexia implored families in similar situations to “stick with” the sufferer following the inquest into her death.

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“It is extraordinarily difficult to deal with it,” said John Keoghan, “It is not normal behaviour at all. It is impossible to deal with it. Families who have children with anorexia, they should stick with them, stay with them. Be kind to them and show them love. It is a long term thing”.

Mr Keoghan was speaking outside Dublin Coroner’s Court after the conclusion of the inquest for his daughter Eva Keoghan (40), a mother of one, who was found collapsed in her room at a Dublin City Council run hostel on the South Circular Road, Dublin 8, in the early hours of September 22, 2012. She had suffered from anorexia for 20 years and most of her organs were atrophied - or wasted away - by the time she died.

During the course of the inquest, Ms Keoghan’s family told coroner Dr Brian Farrell that they had tried to get help for her. Speaking outside the court, Mr Keoghan said she had accessed some services initially but generally they were “non-existent”. “Unless you have a lot of money, there is very little,” he said. When she would visit his house she would never eat anything. "She would only drink warm water," he said.

The inquest heard that Ms Keoghan was found collapsed on the floor of her room at the hostel, where she was a long term resident, when accommodation manager Alan Lynch went to check on her after midnight. He was concerned that she had not signed in at 9pm as she would normally do. He last saw Ms Keoghan the previous night when she had signed in.

She had been dead for a number of hours when she was discovered.

Pathologist Dr Christian Gulmann told the inquest that at post-mortem Ms Keoghan was “extremely thin” with a “profound decrease” in body fat deposits and “major atrophy” of all her internal organs except the brain. A toxicology screen came back negative for drugs or alcohol. The post-mortem did not reveal any reason other than anorexia for the “marked emacation” of the body, he said. The cause of death was given as “chronic starvation in keeping with anorexia”. The immediate cause of death is difficult to establish with certainty, Dr Gulmann said, but was probably a cardiac arrhythmia.

Dr Farrell said that he was satisfied that Ms Keoghan was suffering from chronic anorexia and that she did not deliberately want to end her life. He returned a narrative verdict outlining the facts.

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