Medical student, 23, who battled eating disorder dies due to drugs prescribed by mother

A medical student with an eating disorder died after her emaciated body could not cope with the anti-depressants prescribed by her GP mother.

Katie Lumb, 23, weighed just 5st 8lbs when she died from a toxic build-up of the drugs – after begging her mother to treat her as a private patient.

An inquest heard that the talented student had battled an ‘anorexia-like’ eating disorder for more than two years when she began to suffer from severe anxiety.

Treatment: Katie Lumb spent two months in Leeds General Infirmary

Treatment: Katie Lumb spent two months in Leeds General Infirmary where she was fed through a tube

She refused to seek professional help and instead turned to her mother, Dr Susan Lumb.

Dr Lumb said she knew she ‘wasn’t the right person to treat her’, but eventually prescribed her citalopram, in the hope that her daughter would start eating again if she felt happier.

A few weeks later, she collapsed three times at her student house in Leeds, but would not seek help when her flatmates pleaded with her.


An eating disorder and a serious mental health condition

with anorexia have problems with eating, meaning they are very anxious
about their weight and keep it as low as possible by strictly
controlling and limiting what they eat

Many people will also exercise excessively to lose weight

people will also binge eat, i.e. they eat a lot of food in a short
space of time. they then try to get rid of the food from their body by
vomiting or using laxatives

Symptoms usually begin gradually, such as adopting a restrictive diet and often spiral out of control quickly

The leading cause of mental health-related deaths

Most cases of anorexia develop in girls and women usually during the teenage years

Anorexia also affects 1 in every 2,000 men

cause is unknown, but most experts believe the condition results from a
combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors

20-30 per cent of people with anorexia do not respond to treatment, and
around 5 per cent will die from complications caused by malnutrition

If you're having problems with an eating disorder please contact

Friend Miriam Walden said she insisted that Miss Lumb at least call the NHS Direct hotline, but later discovered she had only pretended to make the call.

She was found dead in her bedroom the next day, on May 13 last year.

Dr 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 first noticed their daughter had lost weight when she returned from university to the family home in Sheffield for Christmas in 2008, but she managed to hide the full extent of her condition.

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

At her lowest ebb, her weight plummeted to 4st 9lbs and she spent two months in Leeds General Infirmary being fed through a tube.

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

Miss Lumb failed to keep her outpatient appointments and only attended two out of 12 appointments.

She was eventually dismissed as a patient and throughout 2010 she assured her worried mother and father, Martin Lumb, that she was getting help.

But by early last year, she was suffering from serious anxiety.

Recording a narrative verdict, West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff said: ‘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.

‘Her degree of emaciation and malnutrition has contributed to this by causing changes in the beating mechanism of her heart.’