THE mother of a 29-year-old Sheffield man warned this week of the danger of drinking too much water after it led to his brain damage and eventual death.
Matthew Ellis died in the Northern General Hospital more than seven months after having a fit and collapsing following a night out with friends last Boxing Day.
He had downed ‘pints and pints’ of water as a result, his family believes, of an Ecstasy tablet being slipped into his drink without his knowledge.
It caused him to crave massive amounts of water, resulting in his salt levels plummeting and prompting a rare brain condition called extrapontine myelinolysis.
Matthew, a heating and ventilation engineer, never returned home from hospital and eventually died of a chest infection.
His mother, Maureen Ellis, aged 62, of Gleadless, said: “There’s no health warning - water’s good for you if you have a certain amount, but we want to make people aware not to drink too much. Matthew went through absolute hell. It’s such a waste of a young life.”
Maureen, a technical support officer at Sheffield Council, said Matthew, who was due to start a job at Doncaster Prison last January, had gone to sleep at his 66-year-old dad Ken’s home in Lowedges after the night out.
“The following day he was feeling poorly and rough and started drinking lots of water. He was drinking pints and pints - we don’t know exactly how much, but he was drinking it through the day, constantly.
“The next day my eldest son, Andrew, phoned and said Matthew was starting to fit and was nearly falling down the stairs. Then he collapsed in the kitchen.”
Matthew suffered five seizures in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
“We were told to go straight there because it was serious and life-threatening,” said Maureen. “When we arrived Matthew was on a ventilator in intensive care. He couldn’t do anything himself. I was devastated, absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe it.”
She said a consultant at the Northern General told her Matthew must have unknowingly been slipped an Ecstasy tablet. “He never took drugs. He liked to go out, but not on a regular basis, and he might go six months without having a drink.”
Maureen thought the worst of Matthew’s illness was over when he woke up after three days in intensive care, but days later he went into a coma.
Extrapontine myelinolysis - caused when the salt concentration in the body is diluted by excess water - had already started to take its toll, stripping away a coating on neurons in the brain, causing irreversible damage.
“It was nobody’s fault, but his sodium levels shot up. We don’t know why.
“The doctors were pumping it back into him but didn’t realise his own salt levels had shot up on their own. That’s what finally finished him off.”
Matthew died on August 4. The funeral is at City Road Crematorium on Saturday at 10.45am.