Woman ‘ate herself to death’ aged just 23 due to rare condition that left her constantly hungry



A woman with a rare genetic disorder which left her with a constantly high appetite died after ‘eating herself to death’ aged just 23.

Tragic Kirsty Derry was unable to stop eating even though she understood she was harming herself, an inquest heard.

She suffered from Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) – an inherited disorder which can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity in adulthood.

Kirsty was found dead in her flat at Victoria Mews, a supported living accommodation in Stone, Staffs., on July 20, 2013.

She had a Body Mass Index at the time of 42.1, a court heard.

A healthy BMI for an adult is 19-25.

Kirsty’s mother Julie Fallows told a coroner that social workers did not understand her daughter’s condition and did not do enough to help.

She told an inquest this week: “When she went there I expected one-to-one support between 8am to 10pm.

“When she first arrived, there were alarms fitted to the cupboards and fridge. But at some point that technology was removed without our knowledge.

“Often we couldn’t find any staff when we visited.

“I became aware Kirsty had no idea of portion sizes but I thought her cooking was regulated. But in 2013 her changes in weight were obvious. Her legs were swollen, she could hardly walk or get shoes on her feet. I expressed my concerns.

“I felt Kirsty should have been removed from Victoria Mews immediately. But nothing was done right up until her death.”

A social worker told the court alarms had been removed because they were annoying Kirsty.

Another said Kirsty did not believe she was unwell and refused to go to hospital.

But Julie maintained staff should have done more.

She told the court: “Kirsty was deemed mentally capable of making her own choices but how can that be if she could eat herself to death?

“Social workers handed her a death sentence by suggesting Kirsty go to Victoria Mews.”

Before her death, Kirsty had written of her frustrations at dealing with PWS, which affects just on in 15,000 people in the UK, on Facebook.

In one post she said: “My life is so miserable. Fed up of people in my face all the time when I don’t need this amount of care.

“I am quite capable, staff just need to understand me and listen to me and get to know me a little better.

“I cannot cooperate when I am in a mood, they need to understand to let me calm down.

“I just want to move to a different place, I don’t feel it’s right for me, just feel like I want to come home.”

Kirsty’s cause of death was given as a pulmonary oedema, meaning fluid had gathered in her lungs, the Stoke Sentinel reports.

Staffordshire County Council has implemented a review of PWS following the case so that lessons can be learned, the court heard.

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