News

Texas teen dies of eating disorder

Lacey Smarr drew jeers from her peers on an eighth-grade volleyball team in Longview, Texas, who said Smarr's butt looked big in sportswear. So the 14-year-old girl vowed to lose weight and get in shape, but she took it too far, reports the News-Journal.

She died last month, days after her 15th birthday, of an eating disorder she'd hidden from family and doctors. The Journal reports she'd probably been vomiting up her meals for months, and the lack of nutrients induced the heart attack that killed her.

Now Smarr's mother, Candy Miller, is staring a foundation in her daughter's name to prevent eating disorders from going undetected.

"I feel like if we can save just one family from the grief we're going through and the pain, then my daughter didn't die in vain," Miller told the Journal. "There was a reason and a purpose. I'm not done being her mama — that's supposed to be a lifelong job. I feel like doing this, I still get to be her mom."

Miller also told the Journal that Smarr had begun letting the sink run while she used the bathroom, but it didn't raise concern. Miller took Smarr to doctors with concerns for the girl's loss of weight, but doctors diagnosed a stomach ulcer and prescribed antacid medications.

Even psychologists and councilors told Miller her daughter didn't have an eating disorder.

But the girl's weight dropped over 30 percent in the months prior to her death, and she had been hospitalized for passing out. Nurses in the hospital even watched Smarr throw up a meal unprovoked.

That's why Miller hopes to raise awareness for the symptoms of eating disorders that she was unable to recognize. Her foundation, the Lacey Foundation, will give presentations at local schools and churches. Smarr's grandmother, Pat Smith, will serve as vice president.

"It's important to make people aware of the underlying cause, usually a trauma in the person's life, that causes the eating disorder to begin with," she told the Journal. "If you can understand the signs — sunken eyes, hollowed cheeks and going to the bathroom immediately after eating a meal — you can treat it."