A delicious and affordable dinner of onions, garlic, green chili peppers, and fresh mushrooms from the backyard sent a Connecticut family to the hospital and almost killed one of them last week. It all seemed so normal at first—matriarch Shah Noor, 40, picked the mushrooms and included them in a meal everyone agreed was delicious. But the next morning her husband, Musarat Ullah, and her daughter Aiman Bibi, 21, experienced extreme stomach pains. They went to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, where they realized the severity of their situation:
Dr. Danyal Ibrahim, director of toxicology, urged Ullah to call home to make sure everyone else was OK. "When I called, I heard this hue and cry," he said. His wife was vomiting and his other daughter, Wafa Guloona, 24, was on the floor holding her stomach. Guloona managed to drive herself and her mother to the hospital, stopping twice to throw up.
After asking what they had eaten recently, it didn't take long for Ibrahim to focus on the mushrooms. The mushrooms were of the species Amanita bisporigera, common in the northeast. The white mushrooms are perfectly nice looking, but they're also known as the "destroying angel" and ingesting them can be deadly.
The old "Destroying Angel" will get you every time! Closely related to the so-called death cap mushrooms, they are among the most toxic known mushrooms. Ullah, his wife, and Aiman where released from the hospital after spending a day pushing detoxifying IV fluids intended to heal their livers. But Guloona almost died; tests showed that her liver was close to a complete "breakdown."
Lucikly, Dr. Ibrahim knew of an experimental drug, approved in Europe but not by the FDA, called silibinin. He won permission to administer it by telling the hospital's internal review board that it was "a matter of life or death." The drug, which blocks the toxins before they can reach the liver cell, was administered to Guloona Sunday, and her condition has improved significantly since. “I was really scared. And it was really painful to see all my family members in the same situation,” Guloona told WTIC-TV.
Robert Marra, a mycology (study of mushrooms) expert, says this kind of dire problem can happen to even the most erudite mushroom authorities. "Stories are legion of famous mycologists who have succumbed because they make little mistakes in identification," Marra tells the Hartford Courant. And even the names can be deceiving—the "Trumpet of Death" mushroom, for instance, reportedly goes great with venison. And we hear nothing adds flavor to your pasta like shavings from a harmless "Nagasaki of Colon" mushroom.