A 25-year-old mom and aspiring bodybuilder from Australia died suddenly after she was found unconscious in her apartment in June. Now, her family is blaming her untimely death on her usage of protein powder and supplements.
Meegan Hefford, a mother of two young children who had been competing as a bodybuilder since 2014, was rushed to the hospital from her apartment and pronounced dead two days later, 7 News reported. She was studying to become a paramedic at the time of her passing.
According to her mother, Michelle White, Hefford was preparing for a bodybuilding competition and was eating “way too much protein,” restricting her diet to protein shakes, lean meat, egg whites, and other athletes’ favorites.
But it wasn’t until Hefford died that it was discovered that she suffered from a rare genetic condition called Urea Cycle Disorder, which only affects 1 in 8,000 victims. Hefford’s body was unable to break down the significant amount of protein she was consuming, leading to a build-up of ammonia in her blood and fluid in her brain.
“There was just no way of knowing she had it because they don’t routinely test for it,” her mother said. “There’s medical advice on the back of all the supplements to seek out a doctor but how many young people actually do?”
Now, White is hoping that her daughter’s tragic death will raise awareness among other bodybuilders about the rare and dangerous disorder. The Australian Medical Association has also advised that most people do not obtain much of a health benefit from protein supplements, even though they are typically not dangerous either.