Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bodybuilder mum's death blamed on excessive protein intake and undiagnosed genetic disorder

Meegan Hefford's death is being blamed on excessive protein intake and a previously undiagnosed genetic disorder
Meegan Hefford's death is being blamed on excessive protein intake and a previously undiagnosed genetic disorder
Meegan Hefford. Photo: Facebook
Meegan Hafford. Photo: Facebook
Meegan Hefford. Photo: Instagram
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

An Australian bodybuilder mum has died from an excessive protein shake intake and a previously undiagnosed genetic disorder.

Meegan Hefford was found unconscious in her apartment on July 19 and passed away a few days later.

Her family are blaming her death on excessive protein shake intake, as well as a previously undiagnosed genetic disorder, according to Yahoo News.

It was discovered that Ms Hafford suffered from urea cycle disorder, which kept her body from breaking down protein properly. It caused a build-up of ammonia in her blood and on her brain, according to Perth Now.

Meegan Hafford. Photo: Facebook
Meegan Hafford. Photo: Facebook

Ms Hefford's family are now calling for more restrictions in the diet industry.

Her mother, Michelle White, told Perth Now that she had previously warned her daughter after she complained about feeling lethargic and "weird".

"I said to her, 'I think you’re doing too much at the gym, calm down, slow it down,'" White recalled.

Her mother explained that Ms Hefford had been on a strict diet of protein shakes and egg white in preparation for a bodybuilding competition in September. She would often go to the gym twice a day.

After Ms Hefford was found unconscious in her apartment, she was rushed to hospital where it took doctors two days to diagnose urea cycle disorder.

The bodybuilder, who leaves behind a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, was pronounced brain dead the following day, and her death certificate lists "intake of bodybuilding supplements" as one of the causes of death, as well as the previously undiagnosed disorder.

Meegan Hefford. Photo: Facebook
Meegan Hefford. Photo: Facebook

"I couldn't believe what the doctors were telling me, she was dying," Ms White told Perth Now. "I said, 'You have to give her more time,' because she didn't look sick, she looked beautiful."

Urea cycle disorder, which affects one in 8000 people is a genetic disorder which prevents the body from removing ammonia from the bloodstream.

Untreated, the high amounts of ammonia can cause brain damage, coma and eventually death.

High protein intake, excessive dieting and exercising can create an excess of ammonia in the body.

Meegan Hefford. Photo: Instagram
Meegan Hefford. Photo: Instagram

Ms White she hoped her daughter's death would encourage the supplements industry to enforce stricter regulations.

She found a number of protein supplement containers in her daughter's kitchen as well as a detailed diet plan.

"I know there are people other than Megan who have ended up in hospital because they've overloaded on supplements," White said. "The sale of these products need to be regulated.

"There's medical advice on the back of all the supplements to seek out a doctor but how many young people actually do?" Ms White told Yahoo News.

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