Saturday 16 December 2017

Judge extends order to feed anorexic woman through tube

The woman will now be fed through a tube. Pictured posed.
The woman will now be fed through a tube. Pictured posed.

Tim Healy

A COURT order that a young woman suffering from anorexia be fed through a tube will continue after a judge was told she is making "monumental strides".

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, extended an order he made last week, that the 22-year-old be fed through a tube, until next Friday.

The judge was given a progress report on the hospitalised woman who last week began to refuse four out of the seven nutritional feeds her body requires.

Peter Finlay, for the HSE, which had made the application to the court, said the order had been extremely effective.

The woman had sent a card of thanks to one of the specialists treating her and from what was written, it was clear "she does not want a fatal outcome", counsel said.

The lawyer asked for an extension of the court order amid a concern that she will not continue to accept the nutritional feeds required unless it remains in place.

There was a fear of a downward spiral, as had happened in the past once she begins to put on weight, he said.

Counsel said they were seeking that the order remain in place for another week or so.


Michael Ramsey, counsel for the woman, said his side had no objection to the order staying in place but asked for permission for an independent expert on the eating disorders to carry out a psychiatric support.

Mr Justice Kearns said he would continue the order to Friday.

However, at this stage, the judge said he was not going to intervene and have an independent psychiatric report carried out.

He said all the indications were the young woman was receiving excellent care.

Last week, the court heard the woman had refused four out of seven oral nutritional supplements in 24 hours and due to her low body weight – 32.8kg – she ran the risk of collapse.

Her medical team believed she needed to restore her weight by seven kilogrammes to allow her to be sufficiently stable to function outside of the hospital.

A consultant physician in gastroenterology said in an affidavit the woman had first been admitted to hospital in late 2012 as a result of starvation due to anorexia nervosa.

Her weight was 26kg on admission.

She had to be artificially ventilated and a gastrostomy tube was inserted in order to feed her safely.

When she regained consciousness she was insistent she could maintain her weight and was eventually discharged home.

The consultant said that unfortunately there have been two re-admissions since then which have lasted for several months, and she has remained in hospital continuously since the middle of last year.

Irish Independent

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