John Gardener, 40, had a nail biting problem so severe he contracted a septic infection that spread from his fingers and eventually caused a heart attack.
Gardener’s doctors say he would bite his fingers until they bled. His fingers were so damaged from the habit before his death that they became numb reports New York Daily News.
Gardener’s general physician, Dr. Daniel Vernon, said the his fingers were in “constant poor condition.”
“John’s nails were always in poor condition, and they were often bleeding when he came to the doctors,” Vernon told the Mirror.
Gardener’s problem was likely fueled by his anxiety and depression, which he had in the years leading up to his death. He was diabetic, which made him more prone to infections.
Gardener’s habit became a medical emergency when one of his fingers became infected. Doctors first treated him with intravenous antibiotics but decided the tip of his finger had to be removed.
After his surgery, Gardener showed signs of improvement. But days after his 40th birthday, he had a sudden heart attack. Doctors believe it was caused by the infection in his finger.
Orthopedic surgeon Chye Ng said he was shocked by Gardener’s death.
“The passing of John Gardener was really upsetting and shocking for all of the team,” he said.
John’s mother, Jean Gardener, was in disbelief when she first heard that news that her son had died.
“It was such a tragedy, we’re all in shock,” she said. “It’s really hit our family hard, there could’ve been more done to help him. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s son — it’s just devastating.”