An inquest on Tuesday learned that a 16-year-old from Cornwall, England, died from a constipation-induced heart attack after going eight weeks without a bowel movement.
Emily Titterington, who was autistic, often withheld bowel movements for two months at a time due to her phobia of using toilets, according Daily Mail. The enlarged bowel eventually reached a point where it compressed her chest cavity and displaced her organs.
Emily fainted and died in her St. Austell home in February 2013.
Hannah Herbert, Titterington’s older sister, told their mother that Emily had not gone to the bathroom for several weeks, and described her behavior as routine, reports the BBC.
Home Office pathologist Dr. Amanda Jeffrey identified Emily’s symptoms with “stool withholding,” a behavior more frequent among children.
The inquest at Truro City Hall learned that Emily did not want to be examined by medical professionals days before her death, and was reluctant to go to the hospital because she had “severe anxiety” about her problem, her mother, Geraldine Titterington, said.
Dr. Alistair James, Emily’s general practitioner, said he would have taken a different approach to curing Emily if he had examined her abdomen. He instead gave her laxatives.
“Her death could have been avoided with the right treatment at the right point,” James said.
Paramedics who attempted to resuscitate Emily were shocked to discover the condition she was in after her collapse. Lee Taylor, a paramedic, was especially taken aback at her “grossly extended abdomen,” reports the BBC.
Hannah claimed she contacted social services before her younger sister’s death, fearing that Emily was not in a “healthy, safe environment,” Hannah told the inquest.
James found no evidence in support of Hannah’s claims.
The inquest is still ongoing.