Judge welcomes ‘remarkable’ recovery of man with anorexia

High Court heard young man had been at ‘death’s door’ before undergoing treatment

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he hoped the young man’s progress will ‘give hope’ to all those dealing with the eating disorder.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he hoped the young man’s progress will ‘give hope’ to all those dealing with the eating disorder.

 

A young man whose chronic anorexia led to his parents being told two years ago to prepare for his death has made a “remarkable” recovery, the president of the High Court has said.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he hoped the young man’s progress will “give hope” to all those dealing with the eating disorder.

The man’s case, the first of a male with anorexia before the High Court, came before the judge in 2017 via an emergency urgent application for him to be made a ward of court and taken to a hospital intensive care unit for treatment.

His parents were told he might not survive.

Once his physical condition stabilised to the extent he could be moved, he was transferred to a specialist eating disorder unit in the UK because such services were not available in Ireland.

Those orders were made in the context of the court’s wardship jurisdiction on foot of medical reports the man, in his early twenties, lacked capacity to make decisions concerning his health and welfare.

Having made considerable progress in the UK unit, he has been back in Ireland for a number of months and continues to remain under the care of a specialist HSE team.

His progress to date has lead to various doctors, including a court-appointed medical visitor, concluding that he now has capacity to make decisions about his health and should be discharged from wardship.

‘Excellent result’

Making the discharge application on Monday, David Leahy BL, for the HSE, said the man’s parents have said he is back at home, doing well and applying for jobs. It was a pleasure to have reached this situation, counsel said.

The parents were not in court but had asked the HSE to say they and their son could not thank the judge enough for the kindness he had shown the family, he said. The parents also expressed gratitude to the HSE and all involved in their son’s treatment and care.

Paul Brady BL, for Patricia Hickey, the general solicitor for wards of court, supported the discharge application.

Mr Justice Kelly said this was an “excellent result” as the “bright young man” was at “death’s door” just two years ago.

The man and his parents have had a “very difficult passage” over the last two years but he has made good progress and has reached a position where he has capacity to make decisions for himself, the judge said.

He noted that an independent medical visitor who assessed the man for the court had reported he still has the mental disorder of anorexia but his current care needs are being appropriately met and he has capacity to make decisions concerning his health and welfare.

The report noted the man’s weight, while it has improved, is not yet normal for his age and build but is a vast improvement on his earlier situation.

The judge said he is strongly of the view no one should be in wardship unless they lack capacity and it was “a pleasure” to be able to discharge the man from wardship.

The judge wished the man well into the future and also thanked all the doctors and lawyers involved in the case.