Ex-addict became ‘skeleton’ before death in hospital

AN EX-HEROIN addict who died in hospital had become a weak four-and-a-half stone ‘skeleton’ who couldn’t move or speak, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Park, of Bodmin Close, was 52 when he passed away at Eastbourne DGH on January 30, 2010. An inquest into his death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday (May 26).

Patholosist David Wright said extensive pneumonia in Mr Park’s left lung had caused the death but listed pulmonary disease, his previous heroin addiction which was being treated with methadone and his extremely low weight as contributory factors.

Coroner Alan Craze was told Mr Park was a former heroin addict, an alcoholic and a smoker. Dr Gietzen, Mr Park’s GP, said, “His lifestyle had a major impact on his health.”

Mr Park was taken to hospital by ambulance on January 10 at around 6.30pm and said he was in constant pain.

He was found to be breathless and malnourished with a pulse twice as fast as it should be, a very high blood sugar level and fungal infections. He was also suffering from muscle breakdown where he had become so underweight.

Mr Craze said, “He was in a state. He was about to die when he was admitted to hospital.”

Mr Park was put on oxygen, a drip and given antibiotics. He also started to take small sips of a high energy meal replacement. Mr Park began to improve and was seen by the dietician at the hospital but was reported to be uncooperative.

Dr Athulathmudali, consultant physician, said there was no medical reason why Mr Park could not eat and explained he was of sound mind and understood what the doctors were telling him.

He said, “When he became stronger he started refusing everything.”

Jade Mewitt, his ex-partner and mother of his son, supported Mr Park in the final month of his life and said he was too weak to eat in his final days.

“He couldn’t move. I had to physically move his legs. He couldn’t even lift his arm and he couldn’t speak,” said Ms Mewitt.

“They were saying he wouldn’t help himself, but he couldn’t move. How can you eat if you can’t move?”

She added, “He starved to death, literally, and he was dead in his own body before he died. He looked like a skeleton, he looked disgusting.”

Alan Craze recorded a verdict of natural causes contributed to by self neglect.

Ms Mewitt said it was not self-neglect because Mr Park had a son and wanted to get better.

She said, “When he tried to eat he would retch. He wanted to eat and he would have loved to have known what it was that stopped him from eating.”