Richard and Linda

Stories

I cannot express how traumatic this illness has been...

Linda and I went out for lunch in 2003 expecting to enjoy a nice meal together. Instead, we ended up contracting a foodborne illness that has affected our lives in ways we never could have expected. About two weeks after eating our meals containing imported raw green onions, we both had a severe reaction, one that still affects us even today. The green onions we ate in the salsa were contaminated with the Hepatitis A virus.

Linda developed flu-like symptoms. Her entire back and body hurt, and she was extremely tired. Linda assumed she had the flu and went on as if her symptoms were simply that. The following evening, I came home from work with similar symptoms to what Linda was experiencing. Soon after, we both developed extremely severe back pains with spasms and spent most of our day just laying around and trying to sleep.

Meanwhile, my condition spiraled downward rapidly. I had no appetite, experienced chills, and was totally lethargic. Linda drove me to the emergency room. Once at the hospital, I was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, treated for dehydration, and released. Then, a few days later, Linda found me incoherent. She tried to help me out of bed but I was unable to move. Linda called 911 and our nightmare worsened.

Once I returned to the hospital it was discovered my liver counts were off the charts. It could be mere hours before my liver shut down completely. Suffering from fulminant Hepatitis A, which destroys the liver, at age 57, I now needed a liver transplant. After many frantic hours, a match was found. Although my transplant was successful, there were numerous complications including cardiac arrest. Initially, I was in a medically induced coma and altogether spent 27 days in the hospital. Linda stayed by my side through the entire ordeal, even though she herself was still battling Hepatitis.

I cannot express how traumatic this illness has been. I nearly lost my life, and will have to take anti-rejection and numerous other drugs for the rest of my life; all which carry their own risks. Contaminated fresh produce continues to sicken and sometimes cause the death of those who unknowingly consume it. I find it very discouraging that regulations and safeguards still have not been implemented. Linda and I will remain very wary of all produce not grown in our own garden or locally. This situation needs safety regulations enacted immediately.

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