Sunday 27 May 2018

High Court orders the continued tube feeding of young anorexic woman

The young woman had been dramatically losing weight because of anorexia nervosa.
The young woman had been dramatically losing weight because of anorexia nervosa.

By Saurya Cherfi

The High Court today directed the continued tube feeding of a young woman dramatically losing weight because of anorexia nervosa.

Barrister Sarah McKechnie, counsel for the HSE, told the court the woman had been detained since May last under the Mental Health Act after the HSE made an application to the High Court following a sharp decline in her condition.

The court had then ordered the woman, who is in her twenties and cannot be identified, to undergo a lifesaving treatment, including tube feeding, and the matter had been adjourned to today to see how the woman’s treatment was going.

Ms McKechnie said that despite all the supports the young woman had received from the medical team her weight had dropped due to excessive exercise and inadequate nutrient intake.

She told Mr Justice Paul McDermott that the woman, who weighs about 30kg, had lost weight following her transfer to hospital. She said it had been anticipated the transfer would be traumatic for her.

Ms McKechnie said if the woman continued to lose weight her treatment would have to be considerably restrictive to ensure less exercise, greater bed rest and the administration of appropriate treatment but “excluding forced feeding.”

Judge McDermott heard the medical team was concerned about the woman’s weight loss and recommended that the court order obtained in May by the HSE be continued.

Ms McKechnie said the woman had a history of food eating disorder since her teenage years and her family had really tried to obtain all available treatment for her in Ireland and abroad. 

The woman’s father, who addressed the court today on his and his wife’s behalf, said they were both concerned and anxious for the court order to continue.

He said he and his wife thanked the medical team for looking after their daughter.

Judge McDermott directed the court order to continue and he adjourned the matter to September 10.

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