Somerset woman died after eating mushroom picked from her garden - inquest

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: A death cap mushroom. A death cap mushroom.

A WOMAN who picked mushrooms from her garden to treat her husband when he got home from work ended up poisoning herself, an inquest heard.

Christina Hale, 57, of Spaxton Road, Bridgwater, died from multi organ failure four days after eating “a significant portion” of highly toxic death cap mushrooms she made into soup.

Her husband, Jocelyn Lynch, also fell ill, but recovered as he only had one bowl.

Dr Helene Lindsay, an intensive care consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, said Mrs Hale went into cardiac arrest and suffered kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure.

Frantic efforts, including contacting experts in Britain and Europe, failed to save Mrs Hale, who died with her family at her bedside.

Dr Lindsay said: “If she'd got treatment within an hour of becoming ill, it's possible, if she'd been transferred to King's College Hospital, London, in time that she'd have survived - but it would have relied on a liver transplant and even then it may not have saved her.

“I understand there are a couple of deaths a year from mushrooms - death cap is the one that generally causes death in this country.

“Death normally takes six to 16 days. This was very quick, which suggests she'd eaten a significant portion.”

Earlier Mr Lynch told how the couple, who had four children, had previously picked edible mushrooms in their garden.

He said: “I had a bowl of mushroom soup followed by stew - my wife didn't like the stew so she had more soup.”

Both suffered severe diarrhoea and vomiting over the following days.

A doctor who called said they most likely had norovirus and should stay at home.

But the following day, Mr Lynch was woken by another doctor shouting.

Mrs Hale was rushed to Musgrove, where she died on November 19 last year.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, due to multi-organ failure caused by mushroom poisoning.

Mr Rose said: “Death cap mushrooms are one of the most dangerous there are. They resemble some edible mushrooms and don't taste unpleasant.

“One should never pick mushrooms, particularly under trees, unless you know exactly what you're picking.”

Mr Rose said he doubted Mrs Hale would have survived even if she had been sent to Musgrove earlier.

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