WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) – A mother and son from Amherst escaped a terse phone call after eating poisonous mushrooms from a friend’s garden that closely resembled another mushroom they used to eat in their native Malaysia.
“The mushrooms looked the same as the mushrooms we have in our homeland, which was good for them to eat in their homeland, it was even considered healthy,” said Kai Chen, the son.
What his mother thought was a brown cap mushroom turned out to be a death cap. Shortly after eating the mushrooms, her condition began to change rapidly.
They both went to UMass Memorial Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed them with life-threatening liver damage. Doctors flew in medicine from Philadelphia to help mother and son.
“The healing we were able to provide to this family was truly a Herculean effort between dozens of departments and healthcare providers,” said Dr. Stephanie Carreiro of UMass Memorial.
Doctors say the death toll from this type of disease is usually between 30% and 50%. Although Chen gradually recovered, his mother Kam Look needed a liver transplant.
She said she wanted to share her story with others so no one makes the same mistake.
Using her son as a translator, she said this should be treated as a “cautionary tale” to be careful of what you find in the woods.
Doctors said over 700 people in the US get sick every year from eating poisonous mushrooms.
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