A 33-year-old woman has passed away after doctors did not believe her and accused her of faking her symptoms.
Stephanie Aston from Auckland, New Zealand lost her battle against Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare genetic illness that affect the connective tissue of the body.
The condition is described as ‘invisible disease’ as sufferers look healthy even though they are experiencing agonizing symptoms, including abdominal pain, fainting, dislocating joints, severe migraines, and fast heart rate.
When Aston went to seek medical help in 2016, the doctor thought she was lying about her symptoms. Other doctors who were also baffled by her condition referred her to Auckland Hospital.
The medic told her she didn’t have any illness and was only making herself sick.
Speaking to NZ Herald, Aston said: “I feel like I have had my dignity stripped and my rights seriously breached.”
She then complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner but the diagnosis had negatively affected her health.
The complaints resolution deputy commissioner for the HDC, Meenal Duggal, ruled that it wasn’t the office’s role to overturn or confirm a disputed diagnosis.
Aston became an inspiration to those who were also suffering the same condition and invisible disabilities.
In 2017, she helped start Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes New Zealand, an organization that supports people with EDS.
Taking to Facebook, the organization wrote: “Its with much sadness that we have to announce the passing of Steph Aston. Steph helped set this society up with myself back in 2017 and helped run it with me for many years until her health declined further and couldn’t continue helping.”
The organization continued: “She has also been a beacon for many in our community. 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.”
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