Bolton woman’s death was caused by heart failure and not tanning injections

An inquest into the tragic death of a young woman from Bolton who collapsed at a tanning salon has heard that she passed away due to severe heart failure.

Jenna Vickers, 26, was visiting the Tantastic salon on Bury Road, Breightmet, on Monday September 3 last year for one of her two weekly sessions at the salon. Manager Lisa Rourke raised the alarm after Jenna had not come out of the booth over ten minutes after she was due to finish her 12-minute tanning session.

However, despite her best efforts, Ms Rourke was unable to open the door to get inside to Jenna and frantically phoned for an ambulance. Paramedics attempted to revive Miss Vickers for 30 minutes but she was declared dead at the scene.

Initially, it was speculated that Miss Vickers may have passed away after an adverse reaction to tanning injections she had obtained from an overseas website which has since been shut down.  However, at Tuesday’s inquest, Bolton’s assistant deputy coroner, Alison Hewitt ruled this theory out.

Miss Vickers, from Breightmet, had been injecting herself with unlicensed tanning drug Melanotan — a synthetic hormone that triggers the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for darkening the skin following exposure to sunlight. The drug comes in two forms – Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2, with the latter being the strongest of the two types.

Health experts have repeatedly criticised the self-injected Melanotan products, which are illegal in the UK but can still be bought from other countries. In addition to the massive danger of using your own needles, severe side-effects from such products can range from nausea to headaches and various other ‘potentially dangerous’ unknown outcomes.

Miss Vickers’ fiancé, Brian Watson, confirmed although Jenna had never previously fainted when with him, she had complained of frequent headaches.

He said: “She was jealous because I could get a tan and she couldn’t. She had bought a couple of vials in the past couple of months. She would inject every two or three days. The night before, I had finished work and got home. We would normally take the dogs out and have tea and then settle down to watch TV.  It was a normal evening. She would normally do it (inject) before she went to bed. That night she complained about having a pain in her chest but that was before the injections. It must have been between 7.30 pm and 9pm. She was sitting on the couch and she just grabbed her chest and said “ow”. She said she had a pain and I asked if I needed to call paramedics, but she said no, she would be fine and it was gone in 10 minutes. I thought it was indigestion. The pain must have been quite bad. She kept them in the fridge and would take them out half an hour before. I had taken one and they sting. She would say it was stinging her.”

Dr Patrick Waugh, pathologist at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said Jenna had died of severe heart failure caused by her obesity. She had weighed 25-stone at the time of her death, and a body mass index of 58. A healthy body mass index is typically defined as being in the range of 18.5 to 25.

Most of her organs were also enlarged, especially her heart, making her at high risk of succumbing to sudden death from heart failure.

Dr Waugh told the jury at the inquest: “It remains that there is insufficient information in respect of Melanotan 2 to allow any realistic assessment of its significance in the death of Jenna. The possibility of adverse reaction to Melanotan can’t be excluded, but there is no evidence to suggest it does. I can’t link it to the medical cause of death. The literature is not there or substantiates a causal link to sudden death. I would say it has nothing to do with her death, that would be my conclusion.”

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