A 33-Year-Old Woman Has Passed Away After Doctors Said She Faked Symptoms


Stephanie Aston reached out for medical assistance when she was 25 years old. She had been experiencing intense headaches, stomach pain, her joints popping out, getting bruises easily, lacking enough iron, fainting, and enduring various injuries. This information was reported by The New Zealand Herald.

After her initial checkup, she was sent to Auckland Hospital, where a doctor accused her of being responsible for her own illness.


Because of this accusation, Aston was placed under psychiatric observation, where she underwent rectal exams and was additionally accused of engaging in self-harming behaviors.

She was also suspected of pretending to faint, having fevers, and coughing fits – and even implying that her mother might be physically abusing her.

Regrettably, the symptoms she was experiencing were not false, and Aston has since passed away.


Later on, Aston received a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which is a collection of uncommon inherited conditions that impact connective tissue, according to information from the NHS.

Connective tissues offer support to the skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs, and bones.

As per the NHS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) comes with various symptoms, including fragile skin that makes bruising easy, as well as feelings of lightheadedness and a faster heart rate when getting up.


The healthcare organization also clarifies that there are 13 distinct types of EDS, and these conditions can vary from mild to potentially life-threatening.

Currently, there isn't a particular cure for this condition, but there are methods for patients to handle the illness, including physical therapy and counseling.


Following the disbelief of her symptoms, Aston sought the expertise of rheumatologist Dr. Fraser Burling, the sole specialist in EDS in New Zealand. In 2016, Dr. Burling diagnosed her with classical EDS.

In a 2018 interview with the New Zealand Herald, when discussing how she felt when doctors brushed off her symptoms, she described it as if her 'dignity' had been violated.

Even after having her diagnosis confirmed by two geneticists in New Zealand – Dr. Patrick Yap from Auckland Medical Specialists and Dr. Juliet Taylor from Genetic Health Service New Zealand – it was reported that Auckland Hospital still refused to recognize her condition.


Since the doctor had implied that she was causing harm to herself, this resulted in Aston being denied a long-term intravenous port for delivering blood transfusions to treat severe anemia, a condition characterized by a deficiency of iron in the body.

Aston went on to become an inspirational figure for individuals dealing with EDS. She openly shared her struggles, not only with her condition but also with how doctors treated her.


In 2017, she played a role in founding the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome New Zealand organization.

In a Facebook post honoring Aston's memory, they depict her as a 'beacon' for many within their community.

The post also mentions that she hosted numerous events in Auckland over the years, actively participated in our support groups, and provided guidance to many.

"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."


Another person paid their respects with a comment: "So sorry to hear this… the medical neglect EDS patients have to endure is unforgivable."

Someone else wrote: "I am saddened by this story and tragic loss of such a young woman who was giving back to society and supporting others."

"I'm certain that her short life lives on through the legacy she has created and the memories all those who knew her and whom she touched carry with them."