Maeve Boothby-O'Neill

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picture of a smiling young woman with curly brown hair
Maeve Boothby O'Neill on her 18th birthday.

Maeve Boothby O'Neill was a young British woman who died from very severe ME on October 3, 2021, aged just 27 years old.[1][2] Maeve Boothby O'Neill was a promising writer, a natural scholar and talented at languages. She was diagnosed after 4 years of unrecognised illness, shortly before her 18th birthday. She was writing The Alchemists, the first of a series of novels, set on Dartmoor where she grew up in Devon, England, when she died.

Illness[edit | edit source]

Medical neglect was a major contributing factor in her death: Boothby O'Neill became too unwell to consume enough calories and became progressively malnourished and dehydrated, but NHS hospital doctors refused to weigh the risk of death with the risks from tube feeding.[1] After eventually inserting a NG tube, medical staff then insisted on attempting to feed her triple what she had previously been taking orally, compounding post-exertional malaise that then prevented all forms of activity, including taking any nourishment or speech.[3][4] The hospital had already refused to consider alternative types of feeding tube such as a TPN, continuing to wrongly believe blood tests which showed she was physically fit and therefore capable of spontaneous recovery.[3] NHS hospital doctors were blind to her physical illness, ignoring her inability to move, chew, or swallow more than 15ml at a sip. An inquest was opened immediately by Exeter and Devon Coroners. At a pre inquest hearing in November 2023 it emerged that the NHS has no policy and no facilities for treating severe (housebound) or very severe (bedbound) patients anywhere in the United Kingdom. The inquest continues to gather evidence. Two full weeks of daily hearings are expected from 22 July 2024, with approximately 3 witnesses each day. The public are welcome to attend. A video link may be requested from the Devon Coroners office.

Media coverage[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Merritt, Anita; Rogers, Paul (September 29, 2022). "Mum's heartbreak as daughter, 27, loses severe ME battle". SomersetLive. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  2. Sandeman, George (July 25, 2023). "Chronic fatigue syndrome patient told: 'You're making it up'". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Johnstone, Katie (May 31, 2023). "A life cut short by medical neglect: interview with Sarah Boothby, whose daughter Maeve died at 27 of severe ME/CFS". ME/CFS Medical Education Campaign. Retrieved August 13, 2023.
  4. Tuller, David (January 27, 2023). "When the doctor doesn't listen". Coda Story. Retrieved August 13, 2023.