Anorexia victim can be force fed via tube, judge rules

A 21-year-old student whose weight has dropped to just 5½ stone (36kg) is to be force fed through a tube on the orders of the High Court.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns made the order to allow the woman to be fed through a tube over the next 48 hours when he heard the anorexia sufferer began refusing food at the weekend and is in “danger of losing her life”.

The woman, who cannot be identified, is significantly underweight and suffers from severe psychotic depression, hears a critical voice saying she is obese, and believes she does not deserve to live, the High Court was told.

HSE SC Peter Finlay told the court the woman’s father supported the HSE application.

Her father said she is a very intelligent woman but had been readmitted to hospital in September, where she told staff how, at previous weigh-ins, she had hidden weights in her clothing.

A consultant psychiatrist said the woman had begun over-exercising, and, in the space of three weeks, lost 17% of her body weight.

She disguised her weight, and when admitted back to hospital her body mass index was 12, which the court heard was a critical level.

The psychiatrist said the woman last month suffered severe psychotic depression.

She believed she did not deserve to be treated and has delusions that she is still fat.

She had gone back to hospital voluntarily in September and was happy to be fed at first.

However, she developed psychotic symptoms and “heard a very critical voice that she was obese”.

Last weekend, she did not take any food at all.

A gastroenterologist who has been treating the woman told the court there was “very little time to waste”.

Making the interim order allowing medics to use minimal and reasonable restraint if required, Mr Justice Kearns said it was a crisis emergency situation and he appreciated it was a difficult time for the family.

The case will come before the court again next week.


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