Ecstasy girl may have drunk too much water

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The Independent Online
Doctors who treated the ecstasy victim Leah Betts believe she may have died because she drank so much water that her brain swelled, restricting its blood supply.

The doctors, who treated Leah as she lay in a coma after taking an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party, are expected to make their claims when the inquest into her death gets under way early next year.

Ecstasy makes its users thirsty - but also causes the body to produce a hormone which retains water.

If a lot of water is drunk quickly, the body cannot get rid of it fast enough and the brain swells, putting pressure on the stem and resulting in a coma.

Yesterday the inquest was formally opened and adjourned. The South Essex coroner, Dr Malcolm Weir, heard that Leah, an A-level student at Basildon College, had complained of headaches, nausea and numbness in her legs during the party at her parent's home in Latchingdon, Essex, on 12 November.

The inquest at Chelmsford heard she told her mother she had taken one ecstasy tablet and some drink before she collapsed.

She died in the intensive care unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, after doctors declared her to be brain stem dead four days later. Her life support machine was switched off and she never recovered consciousness.

The coroner's officer, PC Derek Sewell, added that some good had come from her death. "Mr and Mrs Betts allowed her organs to be transplanted and many people will benefit." The cause of death was given as ecstasy poisoning.

A police investigation into Leah's death is currently under way. Detectives trying to trace the pusher who sold her the fatal tablet have appealed for night-clubbers in Basildon to "shop" the dealer involved.

They have received more than 350 calls and pubs and nightspots targeted include Racquel's where the teenager is thought to have obtained the fatal tablet.

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Storey, leading the investigation, said: "Interesting information has come in about people who were at the Racquel's night club when the tablet was passed on."

The inquiry has seen the arrest of four young people who have been released on bail.

Meanwhile, a young woman from East Anglia who has received Leah's lungs and heart was said to be stable yesterday. She also donated her eyes, liver and pancreas.

Leah's funeral will be held at her village church next week.

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