Google Scholar saves the lives of a poisoned family

A rare case of mushroom poisoning. Physicians rely on Google Scholar to find the cure:

When a family of six showed up at Dominican Hospital complaining of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, it was more than a routine case for doctors Todd Mitchell and Wendy Knapp.

Once they heard all six had eaten tacos made with wild mushrooms, they knew what to suspect. Most likely the family had eaten “death cap” mushrooms, a fungus that could destroy their liver and kidneys and eventually cause death.

The hard part was telling the family.

“Oh my God,” said one family member, a 29-year-old man. “I just ate a ton of this stuff. Am I going to need a liver transplant? Am I going to die?”

The family, ranging in age from 17 to 83, lives in Aptos. They had picked several varieties of mushrooms in Wilder Ranch State Park on New Year’s Day.

Now they faced the fight of their lives. In the United States, there is no known antidote for mushroom poisoning. Unless doctors could find one, the meal they had eaten could be their last.

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  • Maurice Bernstein, M.D.

    What a story!! In retrospect, the detailing of what was done for the family may not tell us the clinical value of milk thistle in the treatment of mushroom poisoning but it does tell us much about the exemplary humanitarian behavior of many different people when there is a medical emergency and there is hope for salvage. This represents a good sign in this cynical world. ..Maurice.

  • Abel Pharmboy

    Doc, one of our mutual readers clued me in to your post and I followed with a more detailed discussion of the science behind milk thistle.

    Beyond that, I do indeed share Dr Bernstein’s enthusiasm for the rest of the story on the determined clinicians who were not content to let obstacles stand in the way of caring for a desperately sick family.