Friday 22 November 2019

Tube feeding of young woman (22) suffering from eating disorder to continue

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns

Tim Healy

A 22-YEAR-old woman who suffers from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa is to be fed through a tube in hospital for another period, a judge decided yesterday after he was told she has gained weight.

The woman, who now has reached 37.9kg, may be able to go on a new weight maintenance programme once she reaches her 40kg target, president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told.

Peter Finlay SC, for the HSE, said it was agreed the court order first granted last January that the woman be fed through a tube was a life saving exercise.

The multi-disciplinary team looking after her plan, once she reaches 40kg and her Body Mass Index (BMI) is 15, to to put a plan in place for weight maintenance  and geared towards her stopping the programme, counsel said.

This would last eight to ten weeks and counsel asked that the court assess the situation again in eight weeks time. Counsel asked that the feeding order stay in place for the moment.

Michael Ramsey SC, for the woman, said there was no doubt the progress made had been excellent and his client agreed the court order and the work of the multi-disciplinary team had saved her life.

However, he said, she felt voiceless  at each court hearing to assess her progress and now wanted the court to consider allowing her go on to the weight maintenance programme.  She wanted the court order suspended for seven days to allow her do that.

A consultant psychiatrist treating the woman was asked by the judge if the woman was ready for the maintenance programme.

The psychiatrist said in the last few weeks the woman has become distressed by her weight gain at times and her blood pressure and glucose levels were not yet stable.

Her body was not ready for the maintenance programme and at this point it is too early to consider it, the psychiatrist said.

Prior to the granting of the court order she said the woman did not believe she was going to die, but she has now learned  the feeding process is essential to live.

Mr Justice Kearns said he would continue the order and he will review the case when it comes back before the court on May 9 next.

He asked the psychiatrist to pass on the words of encouragement to the young woman that if she achieves the weight gain target the team will work with her in the maintenance programme.

The judge said he will also read the correspondence from the woman handed in to the court, which she had written in sequence through the feeding programme and showed how her insight in to her condition has improved.

Last January, the court made the order to feed the woman through a tube after it heard she had refused four out of seven oral nutritional supplements in one 24 hour period  and due to her low body weight- which stood then at 32.8kg with a BMI of 12.2.- she ran the risk of collapse.

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