Meegan Hefford, a 25 year old gymnast was found dead on June 19, 2017 in her Mandurah Western Australia apartment. Hefford is the mother of a 5 year old boy and 7 year old girl. Her family discovered after her death that she had a rare genetic disorder that presented her body from properly digesting her protein diet.
After Hefford’s death her mother discovered containers of protein supplements in her daughter’s kitchen, along with a strict food plan. She now understood that her daughter, who had been preparing for another bodybuilding competition, had also been consuming an unbalanced diet.
Urea Cycle Disorder
The disorder has been recognized as Urea cycle disorder. It stops the body from breaking down protein as it causes a deficiency of one enzyme in the urea cycle. This description was ascertained from the nonprofit National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation.
On normal grounds, our body can remove nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism, from the blood. However, a urea cycle disorder would prohibit this. Therefore, nitrogen, in the form of toxic ammonia, would accumulate in the blood and eventually reach the brain, where it can cause irreversible damage, coma and death. This matches what killed Hefforrd.
However, since 2014, Hefford, who worked at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and studied paramedicine, had been competing as a bodybuilder.
Hefford was eating “way too much protein,” said White, which triggered her daughter’s unknown urea cycle condition. It is hazy what Hefford suffered as symptoms of her condition.
However, her mother hopes that her daughter’s death would and should serve as a warning light for others. It is advised that protein supplements needs more regulation.