Distress-call drug led to student’s death

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A PROMISING medical student who battled with an eating disorder died when her severely emaciated body failed to cope with anti-depressants she was taking.

An inquest heard how 23-year-old Katie Lumb was just 5st 8lbs when she died from a toxic build-up of the drugs after asking her mother, a GP, to treat her as a private patient in April last year.

The court heard the Leeds University student had suffered from an anorexia-like illness for more than two years and heard details of her battle with the eating disorder.

At one point her weight plummeted to less than five stone.

The hearing heard how Miss Lumb was eventually prescribed an anti-depressant drug by her mother when she begged for her help but did not wish to see other professionals.

Her mother told the court she realised she was not the right person to treat her daughter but said she thought if her daughter’s mood lifted, she may be persuaded to eat something.

Dr Susan Lumb told the inquest at Leeds Coroner’s Court: “I wasn’t the right person to treat her, I know that.

“I tried to get across to her but she would not listen.

“I was very much aware that when her mood was low, her appetite went down and she would lose weight.

“I thought it was possible that if her mood lifted, she would eat.”

Her parents had first noticed she had lost a significant amount of weight when she returned to the family home in Sheffield, for Christmas in 2008.

But their daughter hid the full extent of her condition.

In October 2009 she went to see her GP and she was immediately admitted to hospital.

At her lowest ebb, Miss Lumb’s weight plummeted to 4st 9lbs, leaving doctors in fear for her life. She subsequently spent two months in Leeds General Infirmary being fed through a tube.

When fit to be discharged from hospital she was referred as an outpatient to the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds.

But after being discharged from hospital, she failed to keep her outpatient appointments and only attended two out of twelve appointments at the centre.

Miss Lumb was eventually dismissed as a patient and throughout 2010 she assured her worried parents, Susan and Martin Lumb, that she was getting the help she needed.

By early 2011, however, she appeared to be suffering from severe anxiety.

She was eventually prescribed the anti-depressant drug citalopram by her mother after she begged for help, but refused to see other professionals.

A few weeks later she collapsed three times at her student home but refused all attempts by worried flatmate Miriam Walden to seek medical attention.

Ms Walden told the inquest she had insisted Katie at least call the NHS Direct hotline, but later found that she had only pretended to make the call.

Miss Lumb was discovered dead in the bedroom of her shared student house in Leeds, the following day, on May 13 last year.

West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff recorded a narrative verdict.

Mr Hinchliff told the hearing: “A post mortem examination shows the cause of death to be citalopram toxicity.

“This was caused by a disorder of metabolism and impaired kidney function, relating to her dangerous low body weight which would have caused a build-up of the drug within her system to a fatal level.”

And he added: “Her degree of emaciation and malnutrition has contributed to this by causing changes in the beating mechanism of her heart.”

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