High Court rules anorexic woman can be fed against her wishes – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

High Court rules anorexic woman can be fed against her wishes


The High Court has made an order allowing a young woman with severe anorexia nervosa to be fed through a tube against her wishes.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns has made the order this afternoon after hearing testimony that the woman’s medical condition was life threatening. Lawyers for the Health Service Executive had made an application to the High Court for the young woman be fed by tube against her wishes on behalf of the doctors treating her.

Lawyers representing the HSE said they were making the application as a last resort and were well aware of how serious it was to ask the court to intervene in a case like this. The court heard that the 26 year old woman, weighs just over 27kg or around four stone at the moment and has a body mass index of around 11.

The court also heard that she was in grave danger of suffering from irreversible liver failure due to her condition. The court also heard from lawyers representing the HSE the young woman was intelligent and articulate, but she had no insight into the severity of her condition.

The young woman in question refused to accept that she needed to gain more weight, she also clearly expressed her views that she did not wish to be fed through a tube. Doctors treating the young woman have stated that she needed to take in around 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day but was taking in only half that amount.

The court heard she did not accept the doctors’ need to take appropriate action to prevent her death. The court also heard that she was capable of understanding information and communicating her wishes but was incapable of weighing up the information.

The court was told she was emaciated and she had a high level of denial about her condition, that there had been some limited weight gain but it was not enough to take her out of danger. The young woman had first been treated for an eating disorder at the age of 12.

Her father made a statement to the court in which he said that “she was his eldest child and they had had an ongoing struggle with her condition”. Her father also went on to state that the family had not been aware the situation had become so serious until they read a report in a newspaper. He also said his daughter was extremely bright and articulate but did not fully grasp the problem.

Mr Justice Kearns stated to the court that unfortunately this was not the first such case he had had to deal with. Mr Justice Kearns made the ruling allowing the hospital to tube feed her and use appropriate restraint to do so.

The case will be mentioned again in court next Thursday. Mr Justice Kearns also gave permission to lawyers representing the young woman to have her independently medically assessed.

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