A bodybuilder died after injecting steroids he bought illegally over the internet - just weeks after become a first-time father of a baby boy, an inquest has heard.
Gym-owner Lex Darne, 27, moved to the UK from South Africa in January last year, performing workouts in his garden after the Covid-19 national lockdown was introduced.
The father-of-one later begged a doctor for testosterone treatment but he was denied a prescription and instead turned to the internet to buy illegal body-enhancing drugs.
The married man, who suffered from low self esteem, welcomed his first child - a son - on May 10 last year, just six weeks before his tragic death, a coroner heard.
Bodybuilder Lex Darne died after injecting steroids he bought illegally over the internet - just weeks after become a first-time father of a baby boy, an inquest has heard
As a child born in Durban, South Africa, Lex enjoyed motocross until he had a terrifying accident which damaged the glands in his neck.
After becoming a personal trainer, he became 'secretive' about the drugs he was taking for his injury, locking them away from the view of his mother Barbara Darne.
Two weeks before he was rushed to hospital in the UK, Barbara told the inquest she had noticed his face was looking 'puffy' and he was struggling to breathe. The inquest heard he had a very enlarged heart.
She told the inquest in Woking, Surrey, in a statement: 'Lex was complaining of difficulties breathing for some time before I drove him to the hospital.
'He was annoyed with me saying that I was causing him more stress but he was just lashing out.
The father-of-one later begged a doctor for testosterone treatment but he was denied a prescription and instead turned to the internet to buy illegal body-enhancing drugs
'He knew he had to go, he was feeling poorly and his heart was racing. However, he was afraid of going in on his own.
'He wanted me to go with him, he did not want to go into the Covid-19 ward alone. I last saw him at 8pm, I told him I loved him.'
She added: 'We were later shocked to see all of the medication he had stored. With his medical history he should not have been using all of that.
'For all his weaknesses, I know he was only trying to make himself feel good.'
Lex was admitted to the Royal Surrey County Hospital's A&E department in Guildford feeling dizzy, sweaty and experiencing chest discomfort.
Dr Roselle Herring, who treated Lex, said: 'He explained he was originally from South Africa, that he was unable to get medication in the UK and so purchased medication over the internet.
'He was self-administering and injecting testosterone and he had started taking his sister's medication for anxiety.'
The married man, who suffered from low self esteem, welcomed his first child - a son - on May 10 last year, just six weeks before his tragic death, a coroner heard
The coroner heard that in the early hours of June 29 last year, Lex suffered cardiac arrhythmia and despite the best efforts of doctors to resuscitate him, the first-time father was pronounced dead at 4.56am.
Following his death, police raided his Guildford home and discovered more than half a dozen different types of body enhancing drugs - including a packet of syringes and needles - that had not been prescribed by his GP.
Doctor Simon de Lusignan confirmed that just four months before his death, Lex had visited Woodbridge Hill surgery in Guildford, asking for regular testosterone treatment.
He said: 'The last contact we had with Lex was on March 2, he was concerned about his low mood.
'He wished to have treatment for regular testosterone as in South Africa he was having his testosterone levels checked. However the GP explained that we did not do this without a clear prescription.'
Unable to get testosterone from doctors in the UK, Lex turned to the internet to purchase 'illicit' medication, the coroner was told.
Pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzcki confirmed that Lex had an 'abnormally enlarged heart' and concluded that he had died from multiple organ failure and acute endocrine disturbance in a person with critical artery disease.
Assistant Surrey coroner Dr Karen Henderson said: 'Lex Darne did have significant underlying heart disease but he was taking body building drugs including steroids and thyroid hormones, illicitly purchased over the internet and not provided by his GP.
'He had a long history of misuse of body-enhancing drugs.
'He was taken to hospital on June 28 because of the illicit use of body building drugs. They have contributed to his death.
'Before these drugs he would not have died when he did, albeit he did have significant coronary heart disease.'
The coroner concluded that Lex, who owned the Iron Lion gym in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, had died from natural causes but illicit use of bodybuilding drugs contributed to his death.
Raising money in memory of her son, Barbara: 'My son, Lex sadly passed away recently. He was a very special soul with a huge heart especially when it came to animals.
'He was closely affiliated with the SPCA in the Garden Route where his beloved dog, Apollo was adopted and had hoped one day to have a home big enough to rescue many dogs.
'If you feel you would like to donate to this cause in memory of Lex, we know he would be super happy.'