Anorexic Chinese woman, 21, wakes from 40-day coma after extreme dieting

Erin Chan
Anorexic Chinese woman, 21, wakes from 40-day coma after extreme dieting

An anorexic woman in northern China is on the mend after waking from a 40-day coma in what her doctor is calling “a miracle”.

The 21-year-old, identified only as Xiaoxian from Harbin, Heilongjiang province, weighed only 25kg when she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage caused by a fall in the hospital where she was being treated.

According to New Evening Post, she lost 30kg over three years of extreme dieting and lacked the energy to stand at the time of her fall.

“She has suffered from severe malnutrition and multiple organ dysfunction,” said Min Ya, Xiaoxian’s doctor at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University.

“It is a miracle for her to be alive, considering the low energy diet she has been on.”

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Xiaoxian, who is 167cm tall, began dieting at 18 after a school counsellor commented on her weight, which at that time was 50kg.

She restricted her calorie intake to a mere 450 joules – one third of the energy required by a normal metabolism – and relied on dietary supplements and induced vomiting to keep her weight down.

“Her body mass is only 9, but it should be 18 for normal people,” Min Ya said.

Doctors feared she would emerge from the coma paralysed, despite the successful outcome of her brain surgery, due to severe malnutrition.

But after she regained consciousness, Xiaoxian was able to move and even ask for food, the New Evening Post report said. By last Wednesday, she had gained 10kg.

“Doctor, I hope I can soon weigh 54kg,” she is reported to have said.

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Another doctor at the hospital, Zhang Ganming, was also surprised at Xiaoxian’s recovery.

“We initially thought her survival would be the best possible outcome,” Zhang Ganming said.

“I didn’t expect her to become normal again.”

While she continues on her long road to recovery, some effects of the illness may be permanent.

According to Min, her brain tissue is now similar to that of a 60-year-old.

Min urged people to be mindful of the dangers of anorexia nervosa and to avoid unscientific dieting.

Min also recommended that people worried about being overweight should seek professional advice as there may be other factors involved.

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