HomeHealthOhio man nearly dies after eating FOUR poisonous mushrooms

Ohio man nearly dies after eating FOUR poisonous mushrooms

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  • William Hickman discovered some  mushrooms while mowing the lawn of his Windham property last year 
  • After consulting a plant identifier app which deemed them edible, Hickman ate four mushrooms which turned out to be poisonous ‘destroying angels’ 
  • The 55-year-old only recovered after receiving an experimental antidote, an extract from a milk thistle plant called silibinin 



An Ohio man experienced a brush with death after accidentally eating four poisonous mushrooms that his plant identifier app told him were edible.

William Hickman discovered the mushrooms while mowing the lawn of his Windham property last year. 

Hickman, 55, took a picture of the cluster and uploaded the image to a plant identifier app on his phone. 

The app said the mushrooms were ‘giant puffballs’, an edible variety, that Hickman then ate with his tortellini dinner that evening. 

However, the mushrooms were in fact poisonous ‘destroying angels’, and eight hours later Hickman began vomiting uncontrollably and experiencing severe pain. 

William Hickman  (right) discovered the mushrooms while mowing the lawn of his Windham property last year
Hickman was hospitalized and only began to recover after receiving an experimental antidote

‘You know how if you’re sick and then you feel better afterwards and you can get some sleep? Well, it just continued,’ he told CNN.

‘There was no relief, the pain was excruciating. It was awful,’ he said.

Hickman’s wife Tammy photographed the mushrooms and sent it to poison control. 

The workers said they believed Hickman may have eaten a dangerous mushroom and that he should be taken to hospital immediately. 

‘He’s usually very stubborn,’ Tammy told the outlet, but Hickman did not resist going to hospital.

At the emergency room, she said, doctors effectively told her to start ‘making arrangements.’

‘When I heard that,’ Bill said, ‘and I knew how I felt, I thought, ‘I know this is the end.”

 Hickman’s kidney and liver were at risk of failing and was therefore transferred to  University Hospital in Cleveland.

The mushrooms were in fact poisonous ‘destroying angels’ (pictured) and eight hours later Hickman began vomiting uncontrollably and experiencing severe pain
Hickman (left) was rushed to hospital by his increasingly concerned wife Tammy (right)
Tammy (left) was told by doctors to ‘make arrangements’ as her husband may not make it

Dr. Pierre Gholam, a hepatologist at University Hospital who has treated dozens of people poisoned by mushrooms, helped secure an experimental antidote.

‘It’s not FDA-approved, but it seems to be very effective,’ he said.

The antidote, an extract from a milk thistle plant called silibinin, needs to be delivered quickly to counter the effects of toxins on the liver.

‘The earlier the better, and ideally no later than 72 hours into when you ingest the poison,’ Gholam said.

Hickman fortunately received the antidote in time and began the long six-month process of recovery.

‘There are a lot of people involved to make it happen to save me,’ Hickman said. 

Mushroom foraging has exploded in popularity in recent years, but poisonings have increased as a result. 

‘Fungi are kind of a hot thing right now,’ said Dr. Matthew Nelsen, a research scientist at the Negaunee Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Hickman (right) has made a full recovery, but the physical and mental process took six months

‘A lot of the calls we get are kids hand-to-mouth, but we do have adults that maybe think they know what they’re doing foraging,’ explained Dr Gregory M. Muelle, who serves as vice president of science at the Chicago Botanic Garden and is a leading fungal conservation expert who consults for his state poison center. 

‘We see they don’t, really’ he added. 

Between January and October 2023, America’s Poison Centers received more than 7,250 calls about potential mushroom poisonings, an 11 percent increase on the entirety of the 2022.

This year alone, Ohio’s poison centers have had more than 260 mushroom-related calls as of October, with 45 percent of them going to the ER and 33 people hospitalized.



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