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Margate artist dies in tragic electric blanket overdose

A woman died after accidentally overdosing on prescribed pain medication while using an electric blanket, an inquest has ruled.

Elizabeth Rose was found dead in her home in Margate, just a day after being discharged from the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital.

Elizabeth Rose of Margate died from an accidental overdose
Elizabeth Rose of Margate died from an accidental overdose

The 33-year-old had long battled a complex case of Crohn's disease, for which she had been prescribed a heavy regimen of painkillers.

She was discovered with very high levels of opioids and twice the legal driving limit of alcohol in her blood, and was wrapped in a hot electric blanket.

During an inquest this week, NHS pain specialist Dr Johanna Theron gave evidence that these combined determinants caused her accidental death.

“We have got multiple factors at play here,” explained Dr Theron.

“She was using a fentanyl patch that was releasing more than usual because of a nearby heat source; then there was the alcohol that would have increased the effects of that drug.

“As well as that, she had taken twice the prescribed amount of liquid oxycodone - that would have slowed down her breathing to the point of stopping.”

The inquest heard that Ms Rose' use of an electric blanket contributed to her death in Margate
The inquest heard that Ms Rose' use of an electric blanket contributed to her death in Margate

The inquest heard that it was not unusual for Ms Rose to take more than the prescribed amount of her medicine to cope with her pain.

Upon being discharged from hospital on January 18, 2022, she was given a bottle of oxycodone that should have lasted her five days.

But when police officers arrived at the scene of her death two days later, they found the bottle almost empty.

While she also had a history of anxiety and depression, there was no suggestion she intended to take her own life.

Instead, it is believed that having just returned home from a 10-day stay at the hospital, where she consumed no more than her prescribed amount of opiods and drank no alcohol, on the day of her death her tolerance for both was likely lower than she had become accustomed to.

Elizabeth Rose was an artist and activist
Elizabeth Rose was an artist and activist

Coroner Sarah Clarke ruled that Ms Rose died as a result of an accidental overdose.

In her concluding remarks, she explained that Ms Rose may not have appreciated the effect of combining opioids and alcohol.

“Lizzy was described as a bright and intelligent young woman and her death is very sad,” said Ms Clarke.

“She was too young and she had put up with far too much for her age.”

At 15, Ms Rose was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease - an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease for which there is no cure.

But in spite of the intense pain and stress caused by her illness, Ms Rose made the best of her situation by helping others through art, activism and acts of kindness.

“She was beautiful inside and out...”

“She was beautiful inside and out,” said Ms Rose’ mother, Christine Luck.

“She would always help the other patients at hospital and cheer them up - she even made a cake for people when it was their birthday at hospital, with strawberries and everything.”

Faced with having medical treatment that would leave her infertile, and the NHS refusing to pay for her eggs to be frozen, in 2014 Ms Rose brought a legal challenge before the High Court.

“Although the case was denied, it resulted in recommendations by the judge on funding that would improve outcomes for patients in a similar position, and to that extent was a leap forward,” wrote Ms Rose’ father, David Cockram, in his daughter’s obituary.

“If she saw something that was wrong, she would speak up about it,” continued Ms Luck.

“And there will be all these little babies that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her, and that makes me want to cry.”

Ms Rose was also an innovative and talented artist, her later work directly addressing chronic illness and how society interacts with it.

After earning a first-class degree in fine art at Central Saint Martins art school in London, she visited Japan in 2016 to study trends in Japanese art.

In 2018 she made an important contribution to disability access and rights awareness by creating a website to assist disabled artists.

And she was featured in the 2022 book Dangerous Women: fifty reflections on women, power and identity.

From March to April this year a retrospective exhibition of her art entitled Things I Have Learned The Hard Way was on display in The Foyle Gallery of the Turner Contemporary.

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