A teenager suffering from a phobia of toilets has died from a heart attack.
Emily Titterington, 16, died after going eight weeks without a bowel movement which left her with a compressed her chest cavity and displaced organs.
An inquest in Turo, Cornwall, heard that Emily’s life could have been saved with appropriate medical treatment, but she had refused medical examinations.
Home Office pathologist Dr Amanda Jeffery said her symptoms were in keeping with a condition known as “stool withholding”, which is more frequent in children.
A post-mortem examination revealed the 16-year-old had a “massive extension of the large bowel,” which Jeffery described as “like nothing I have ever seen before – it was dramatic”.
Emily, who also had mild autism, had suffered with bowel problems for most of her life but doctors had been unable to determine the cause.
Her GP Dr Alistair James said that Emily’s mother, Geraldine, 59, had battled with her daughter to be medically examined in the period leading up to her death, but her protests were in vain.
Dr James told the coroner that he had prescribed laxatives but had not examined Emily’s abdomen. He said: “Had I done so, we would be having a different conversation. Her death could have been avoided with the right treatment at the right point.”
Emily collapsed while at home in St Austell, Cornwall on 8 February 2013. Paramedics attempted to revive her but she was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Lee Taylor, a paramedic who attended the family’s home twice in the night of her death, described Emily as “looking pale” on his first visit.
She complained of pain between her shoulders blades, he told the inquest, but he did not notice any abdominal swelling and she refused to go to hospital and was extremely reluctant to be examined.
Taylor said that when he and a student paramedic arrived at the family home for the second time that night after 4am, “her father James was outside shouting at us to help, saying something had gone badly wrong.”
When they found Emily lying in the doorway of the bathroom Taylor said: “I could see that her abdomen was grossly extended. Her lower ribs had been pushed out further than her pubic bone – I was shocked.”