Sophia Mirza

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Sophia suffered from very severe ME

Sophia Mirza (8 August 1973-15 November 2005) was a young British artist who suffered from myalgic encephalomyelitis.[1] She has been referred to as the first patient in the UK to have CFS (ME) listed as a cause of her death, however a letter to New Scientist magazine suggested there had been a previous death attributed to the disease.[2]

Life[edit | edit source]

Sophia joined the Woodcraft Folk and enjoyed weekly groups as well as camping. She was involved in the eco movement and recycling. Her art was incorporated into organic foods, yoga, camping, cycling and music.[3]

Illness[edit | edit source]

Sophia suffered two car crashes as a teenager and was hospitalized with meningitis. At age 19, she had multiple vaccinations before traveling to Africa for work, where she twice had malaria. She fell ill with ME after an apparent flu-like illness.[3]

Death[edit | edit source]

Her death came not long after someone forced entry into her mother's home, sectioned her under the Mental Health Act, and forced Sophia to undergo psychiatric treatment at a mental hospital in 2003. After Sophia's death, an autopsy by an independent neuropathologist found Sophia's spine contained massive infection.[3][4]

Inquest[edit | edit source]

Summary by: Invest in ME

Dr. O’Donovan, one of the neuro-pathologists who had examined Sophia's spinal cord testified at the inquest he would not support the term ME as CFS is the modern term and he hadn't seen evidence of muscle inflammation (which they didn't look for.)[5]

Sophia's November 25, 2005 death certificate verdict: "SHE DIED AS A RESULT OF ACUTE RENAL FAILURE ARISING FROM THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME"; previous meningitis; high body mass index, dorsal root ganglionitis; and hepatic steatosis were also listed.[1]

Doctors Abhijit Chaudhuri, a neurologist and Dominic O’Donovan, a neuropathologist, examined spinal tissue from Sophia Mirza prior to the inquest into her death and found changes to her spinal cord.[6]

TV news coverage[edit | edit source]

ITV Meridian Tonight

  • "Late M.E. sufferer Sophia Mirza"
Video 1[7]
Video 2[8]
  • "UK: Psychiatric Industry Victim (Part2)"
Video 3[9]

Newspapers and print media[edit | edit source]

BEFORE MY sister Sophia got Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), I had subconsciously developed a disparaging view of the disease. The little I knew about ME at the turn of the century was from how it had been portrayed in the tabloid press.[10]

The coroner ruled that the 32-year-old had died of complications due to myalgic encephalomyelitis, a landmark verdict in the UK. A neuropathologist told the court that Sophia’s spinal cord was inflamed, with three quarters of her sensory cells displaying significant abnormalities. Yet, as Sophia’s treatment by the medical establishment had underlined – she was forcibly sectioned for a spell in 2003 – many doctors handle ME (also known as postviral or chronic fatigue syndrome), as if it were a mental condition.[11]

Chronic fatigue syndrome has been given as an official cause of death for the first time in the UK. CFS, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), has occasionally been recorded on death certificates in the US and Australia but it is far from being accepted as an organic disease.[6]

Website commemoration[edit | edit source]

  • Sophia and M.E.[12] Site created by Sophia's mother Criona Wilson to commemorate her daughter's life, illness, and passing.

Severe ME Day[edit | edit source]

After Sophia Mirza's death, the British charity Invest in ME Research announced an annual Severe ME day would be held on August 8th, Mirza's birthday. Severe ME Day is a day of understanding and rememberance for those who have died from or with severe ME, and for those who are still living with severe ME.[13]

Other deaths from ME[edit | edit source]

A number of other deaths have been caused by myalgic encephalomyelitis, including Merryn Crofts, who passed away soon after her 21st birthday and donated her body to medical research into ME.[14] In 2010, Professor Malcolm Hooper published Magical Medicine: How to Make a Disease Disappear, which described the deaths of Sophia Mirza, Merryn Crofts, Brynmor John MP, who collapsed outside the House of Commons gyms after being told to exercise by his doctor, and many others whose deaths were attributed to ME.[14][15]:15-17

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mirza, Sophia. "Certified Copy of an Entry - Death Certificate".
  2. Senior, Richard (July 26, 2006). "Not, sadly, the first". New Scientist. Comment section. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The Story of Sophia and M.E." Invest in ME Research. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  4. "Neuropathological Report". Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The Inquest into the Death of Sophia Mirza". Invest in ME Research. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Hooper, Rowan (June 16, 2006). "First official UK death from chronic fatigue syndrome". New Scientist. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  7. "Late M.E. sufferer Sophia Mirza - vid 1". YouTube. itv Meridian Tonight. December 21, 2008.
  8. "Late M.E. sufferer Sophia Mirza - vid 2". YouTube. ITV Meridian Tonight. December 21, 2008.
  9. "UK: Psychiatric Industry Victim (Part2)". YouTube. ITV Meridian Tonight. March 1, 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wilson, Roison (January 24, 2012). "I never imagined my sister would die". The Irish Times. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harding, Louette (May 15, 2010). "'She went into a hellhole': A mother's account of her daughter's fatal illness". Mail Online. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  12. "Sophia and M.E." Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  13. 25% ME Group. "PRESS RELEASE | 8th August Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Understanding and Remembrance Day". Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Hooper, Malcolm (February 12, 2020), Magical Medicine: How to Make a Disease Disappear (PDF), Contributions from members of the ME community. Researched by Margaret Williams
  15. Williams, Margaret (February 12, 2010). "Press release" (PDF).