SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – A woman who ate six “death cap” mushrooms is lucky to be alive and talking about it. But, don’t chalk it up to luck. Instead, chalk it up to the Santa Cruz hospital where she was treated – and one of the doctors who practices there.

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The unidentified woman reportedly plucked the toxic mushrooms from an area near UC Santa Cruz and ate them Dec. 28, 2012. She presented to Dominican Hospital a day later, exhibiting signs of potentially deadly amatoxin poisoning.

The following day, she crossed paths in the Emergency Room with Todd Mitchell, M.D. He is a physician at Dominican Hospital – but was actually at the facility that day with his son, who had dislocated a finger during volleyball practice.

Dr. Mitchell also happens to be principal investigator on the first U.S. clinical trial of a European antidote for mushroom poisoning.

“We have now treated over 60 patients with this drug since 2007,” he told KCBS.

“As long as the drug is started within 96 hours or less,” he explained, “following an ingestion of these deadly mushrooms, we’ve had 100% of patients make full and complete recovery.”

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He added that another key to a patient’s survival is aggressive hydration.


Still, he cautions against the “regular look” of deadly mushrooms.

“They smell very good and when they’re cooked, many patients have described them as the most delicious mushrooms they’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately, famous last words for some.”

Dr. Mitchell and co-investigator Dr. Alan Buchwald, a Dominical Hospital toxicologist, expect to present their data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year.

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