A woman from New Zealand has died from a rare illness after doctors allegedly said her symptoms were all in her head.
Stephanie Aston died at the age of 33 at her home in Auckland on September 1 after she was suffering symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which were dismissed by her doctors.
After doctors refused to take her symptoms seriously and blamed them on mental health, she became an advocate for patients.
Stephanie’s first symptoms of a genetic condition began in 2015 when she was 25-years-old.
When she was referred to the hospital, the doctors allegedly accused her of faking her symptoms.
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Following these accusations, Stephanie was placed on psychiatric watch, reportedly accused of self-harming and underwent rectal examinations.
Alongside accusations of symptom faking, her mother was also accused of harming her.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald about the psychiatric watch she said: “There was no evaluation prior to this, no psych consultation, nothing.”
Following her death, Stephanie’s family released a statement which said she had been a “beacon” for many in their community.
They said: “It is with much sadness that we have to announce the passing of Steph Aston.
“She has been a beacon for many in our community. Hosting multiple events in Auckland throughout the years and being active in our support groups and helping give direction to many.
“Even until the very end, she was keen to help anyone and lend an ear. You will be sorely missed.
“I hope you rest well now.”
Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes New Zealand founder Kelly McQuinlan said: “She was incredibly supportive and still up for a laugh till the end. For those who were lucky to know her [they] would speak to her strength and resilience, along with their amazing, supportive and thoughtful friendships and connections.
“Regardless of her lack of medical care in NZ that she should have received a long time ago as a preventative to her untimely departure, she continued to have hope for anyone else who may be navigating the same systems that failed her.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Auckland Hospital for comment.
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EDS is a genetic condition which causes weakening of connective tissues which help to support skin, bones, and major organs.
Symptoms can include loose joints, abnormal healing, and small blood vessels.
Stephanie’s symptoms reportedly included bruising, severe migraines, joint dislocations, fainting, abdominal pain, and multiple injuries.
EDS, of which there are 13 kinds, affects around one in every 5,000 people.
The NHS said: “There’s no specific treatment for EDS, but it’s possible to manage many of the symptoms with support and advice.
“People with EDS may also benefit from support from a number of different healthcare professionals.
“It’s important to be careful about activities that put a lot of strain on your joints or put you at risk of injury. But it’s also important not to be overprotective and avoid living an otherwise normal life.”
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