Meegan Hefford, a 25-year-old bodybuilder, was reported dead after consuming a large amount of protein for a competition. As a bodybuilder, eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements is perfectly normal. She led a healthy lifestyle and was rarely reported sick. So, how did this unfortunately incident occur?
According to PerthNow, Hefford was eventually diagnosed with urea cycle disorder, a rare genetic condition that prevented her from breaking down the large amounts of protein she was consuming. Typically, this disorder can be treated with a careful diet and medication, but when left untreated it can lead to ammonia buildup in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, her diagnosis came too late. The ammonia and protein buildup gradually poisoned her bloodstream and affected her brain.
Hefford was found unconscious in her apartment in Mandurah, Australia. A real estate agent had been conducting regular rental inspection at the time. She was quickly rushed to the hospital as doctors raced to figure out the cause of her rapid decline in brain activity. Two days later, Hefford was pronounced brain dead. According to PEOPLE, her official cause of death is “intake of bodybuilding supplements” along with urea cycle disorder.
Just a month before, Michelle White, Hefford’s mother, recalls her daughter complaining of feeling “weird.” White replied, “I think you’re doing too much at the gym, calm down, slow it down.” This brought on a huge cause of concern for White, because her daughter had never been sick. She also added that while Hefford was in the hospital, “she didn’t look sick, she looked beautiful.”
Following her death, Hefford’s family aims to tighten restrictions on protein supplements in order to prevent more tragedies like these. This incident also prompted dietitians and health experts to warn clients about the risks of taking supplements, regardless of if people have pre-existing health conditions.
According to PEOPLE, Hefford was studying paramedicine while working part-time at a hospital. She also had two children, a seven-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son, who are currently living with their father.