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Connecticut family hospitalized after eating poisonous mushrooms

A Newington, Connecticut, family was saved by an experimental drug and charcoal after consuming a meal made with mushrooms picked from their backyard, the Hartford Courant reported.

Shah Noor, 40, picked the mushrooms from the yard and cooked them with onions, garlic and green chili peppers for dinner Thursday night.  Early the next day, Noor’s husband Musarat Ullah, 59, and daughter Aiman Bibi, 21, began to experience severe stomach pains and went to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.  Dr. Danyal Ibraham, director of toxicology, told Ullah he should call home to check on the rest of the family.

When Ullah called home, his wife Noor was vomiting while his other daughter Wafa Guloona, 24, also suffered from bad stomach pains.  After asking what they had all eaten, Ibraham suspected the mushrooms were the cause.

Further investigation revealed the mushrooms were of the species Amanita bisporigera, which is common in the northeast.  Though harmless in appearance, the white mushrooms are known as the “destroying angel” and can be deadly if ingested, according to the Hartford Courant.

All four members of the family had to be treated with a combination of IV fluids to restore electrolytes, a charcoal solution to absorb toxins, and a drug called N-Acetylcysteine to help restore damaged liver cells

The treatment was successful for everyone but Guloona, whose liver function tests continued to worsen.  To avoid the breakdown of her liver, Ibrahim contacted the hospital’s review board to get permission to use a drug that has not be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

The drug, called sibilin, blocks toxins before they can reach the liver cells.  It is used in Europe but still in clinical trials in the U.S.

After determining Guloona might die without the drug, the hospital board allowed Ibrahim to administer it to her.  By Sunday night, she showed significant improvements, and Ibrahim expects she will be able to go home by the end of the week.

Mushroom experts told the Hartford Courant the safe approach is to assume all mushrooms in the wild are poisonous.

Click for more from the Hartford Courant.