By Tui Benjamin
An anorexic 5st 5lbs (35kg) dancer who ate only a single apple a day nearly died after she lost more than half her bodyweight.
Survivor Korey Baruta, 20, became so emaciated she needed a wheelchair and couldn’t dance without bruising her body when she lost 5st 6lbs (36kg) by cutting out entire food groups.
Last year the 5ft 8in student was rushed to hospital with kidney failure, liver problems and a heart murmur – leading doctors to tell her she would die due to her shockingly frail frame.
But Korey, now a healthy size eight, has won herself a legion of online fans by documenting her incredible transformation on social media – and is even training to be a dietician.
Korey, from Melbourne, Australia, said: “I had always been the biggest girl in dance class – the ‘fat’ one at the back who didn’t have the perfect body shape.
“I had this image in my head of what a perfect ballerina should look like, and growing up I always felt like my body was the complete opposite.
“I decided I needed to lose weight to help myself become a better dancer.
“Thinking back now, it is terrifying to think how close I was to death. Doctors told me they thought I was on my deathbed lying in that hospital ward.
“But hearing those things didn’t mean anything to me – I didn’t care to be there and I was in the headspace where I wanted to slowly kill myself.
“I was so underweight I couldn’t walk and needed a wheelchair, just walking a few metres up the street I would be breathing heavily.
“When I was recovering I would look at photographs of me at my lowest weight and realise how frighteningly thin I was. I can see now that being that thin meant I looked horrific.
“But at the time I never saw myself the way I do now.”
Korey had danced since the age of three, doing up to 20 hours of ballet, jazz and contemporary dance a week, and first developed an eating disorder in 2012 aged 15.
In 2012 the teenager weighed 11st 2lbs (71kg) and was a healthy size 10 but hated her body and felt constantly self-conscious – obsessing over her stomach ‘rolls’ even since she was a young child.
Korey, a high achiever and perfectionist at school, began controlling her diet by cutting out entire food groups such as carbs and dairy and avoiding fatty meats.
Eventually she ate only vegetables, fruit and salad and at her worst would eat just a single apple a day by cutting it into dozens of tiny slices.
Korey, who had previously been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, reached her lowest point in 2016 after beginning an intense astrophysics degree at university.
She hid her weight loss from her family by wearing baggy jumpers but was so thin even the smallest-sized leggings were too baggy for her legs and she was forced to wear tights instead.
Korey said: “All I did was think about food, I was obsessed with everything to do with it.
“I would look at food blogs and photos of food, watch cooking shows on TV and cook for my family but would never actually eat anything myself.
“That was my way of getting satisfaction out of food – by feeding others, but never myself. I fed off that feeling of hunger.
“I had stopped dancing to focus on my studies but I couldn’t physically do it anymore anyway because I didn’t have the strength.
“Before I stopped, doing floor work was leaving my body looking bruised and battered because there was nothing on my body to protect my bones.”
Things reached a head in June 2016 when Korey attended an appointment for an eating disorder clinic with her mum after her family became concerned about her weight loss.
Medics told her she was too ill to be admitted there and needed to instead be rushed straight to A&E where doctors told her she would die if she didn’t gain weight.
At just 5st 5lbs (35kg), Korey was suffering from kidney failure, a heart murmur and liver problems all brought on by her extreme weight loss.
The 20-year-old spent one week in an emergency ward being stabilised before being transferred to a psychiatric hospital for five months and officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
She has since shared images which show the extent of her condition – but revealed even at that point she still believed she was ‘too fat’.
Korey said: “My mum would say to me ‘Korey, you are killing yourself’ and would tell me I would die if I didn’t eat but I just couldn’t and didn’t want to.
“At the time, I honestly still saw myself as fat when I looked in the mirror and would only see the areas I wanted to improve where I still thought there was fat on me.
“I thought I needed a flat stomach but actually my stomach was sticking out due to me being so thin and having so little body fat, which made my organs bulge out prominently.”
Korey is now a size eight after putting on more than 3st (19kg) but does not reveal her current weight because it is still in fluctuation.
She is back at university training to be a dietician and has racked up nearly 23,000 online fans by documenting her eating disorder recovery tips on Instagram account @storyofkorey.
Korey said: “I have always wanted to help people and it is fantastic if they can relate to my own experiences.
“I am still in recovery and I still have days where it is really hard, but I realise now having a bad day does not mean it is going to be a bad life.
“People can try their hardest to make you recover, but it has to come from within you.
“Before I would cover up my body because I didn’t want to shock everyone with how thin I was – but now I don’t have to hide myself away or feel ashamed of the way I look.