Massachusetts Mother And Son Nearly Die After Eating ‘Death Cap’ Mushroom In Backyard

(Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

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A mother and son in Massachusetts are lucky to be alive after ingesting “death cap” mushrooms they found growing outside their Amherst home.

Kam Look, 63, and her son Kai Chen, 27,  mistakenly foraged the deadly mushrooms after confusing them with ones they safely consumed in her native Malaysia. “For me it looked like any other normal capped mushrooms which I thought it was very safe to eat,” Chen translated for his mother, according to CBS News.

Within hours, both mother and son were deathly ill, suffering from what they initially believed to be a case of food poisoning. It wasn’t until they were sent to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester that they discovered they were both suffering from life-threatening liver damage, reported WCVB News. (RELATED: Oh, The Irony: Over 100 Fall Ill From Food Poisoning At Food Safety Summit)

“When they came in, they were both very ill and had signs of liver damage and Kam actually had signs of kidney damage as well from the mushrooms,” toxicology expert Dr. Stephanie Carreiro said, according to CBS News.

Carreiro and her colleagues consulted with toxicology experts nationwide and New England Donor Services, ultimately flying in a new special investigational drug, Legalon from Pennsylvania, WCVB reported. “The treatment involved getting special permission from the FDA to provide an antidote that’s currently an investigational drug and then to get that antidote emergently carried from Philadelphia,”Carreiro explained.

Chen slowly improved after treatment, but his mother’s liver damage was so severe she needed a liver transplant to save her life. “We tried many methods to try to remove the toxin from their body, and ultimately for Kam, which also required liver transplantation,” Carreiro said according to WCVB news.

Both patients have recovered and are home now, a little wiser to the dangers of eating flora and fauna indiscriminately. “This should be a very big cautionary tale of be careful of what you find out there in the woods – especially mushrooms”, Chen observed per WCVB News.