Earlier this year Meegan Hefford had been ramping up her diet and exercise regime ahead of a bodybuilding competition. But what the mum-of-two couldn’t have known is that the protein supplements she was taking to build muscle were actually harming her.
On June 19 the 25-year-old was found unconscious in her home in Mandurah, an hour’s drive south of Perth and rushed to hospital. Days later she was pronounced dead.
Now, her heartbroken family is sharing her story as a warning to others of the potential dangers of over-consumption of protein supplements.
Meegan's mum Michelle White told Seven News that her daughter had a rare, undiagnosed condition that meant her body couldn't break down protein properly, causing a buildup of ammonia in her blood and fluid in her brain.
The condition, urea cycle disorder, affects around one in 8000 people, many of whom, like Meegan, don't know they have it. Meegan's only clue was that she was feeling lethargic in the weeks before her death.
"There was just no way of knowing she had it because they don't routinely test for it,” Ms White told Seven News.
Ms White said she didn't know her daughter was supplementing her already high-protein diet with protein shakes until she found containers in her kitchen after her death.