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An Oak Bay man is lucky to be alive after eating poison mushrooms picked from his front lawn.
"I'm a walking medical wonder," said David Vickery, 46, Friday afternoon just hours after walking out of hospital.
Vickery said his near-death experience began Sunday evening when he cooked a filet of wild pink salmon for supper along with what he thought were puffball mushrooms picked from underneath his big, old oak tree.
A friend, a woman in her 60s, declined an invitation to dine, saying 11 p.m. was too late in the evening.
The puffballs turned out to be a rather uncommon mushroom, known scientifically as Amanita phalloides or in common lingo as the death cap.
The next morning, Vickery said he felt tired and a few hours later as he was getting a haircut, felt sick to his stomach. After the haircut, he began to throw up and that was followed by diarrhea. The following day he could barely move or breathe and decided to take a friend's advice to get to the hospital.
Vickery told doctors and nurses at the Royal Jubilee Hospital he thought it was likely the mushrooms were causing the problems. A fungus expert from the federal Pacific Forestry Centre was called in and, after collecting samples from Vickery's front yard, made the death cap identification.
It turns out the death cap deserves its name and Vickery was told his odds of survival were not good.
By Wednesday evening, he was updating his will.
But doctors treated him aggressively with anti-toxins and flushed his system with lots of fluids. By Friday he was released and is now planning on buying a sign for his front yard warning people: Deadly Mushrooms -- Do Not Pick.
Gillian Willis of the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre said Vickery is very lucky to be alive because the death cap produces a virulent poison that attacks the liver.
Once the liver shuts down there is no way for the body to cleanse itself of toxins. Without a liver transplant a horrible death is imminent. "It is not a nice way to die," said Willis.
Brenda Callan, the fungus expert with the Canadian Forest Service who identified the mushrooms, said the death cap only resembles a puffball in its early stages when it arises covered by a skin or shell.
But once the death cap emerges from its shell it has a stalk, and a cap with gills underneath and looks nothing like a puffball, Callan said in an interview from her office at the Pacific Forestry Centre.
Furthermore, even when it is still covered with the skin, a picker can slice it in half and find a mushroom inside.
Callan said the death cap has only been identified in Victoria in recent years. As a species it is generally thought to occur only in conjunction, or near, non-native hardwood tree species, like beech, chestnut or English oak.
that's what happens when you forget to cover your ass when it comes to mushroom identification. he's extremely luck if he dosen't face health complications for the rest of his life.
i'm sure there are some toxic amanitas previously recorded from his area. he should have verified, or atleast checked to be sure it hadn't sporulated yet to avoid a nasty taste.
Attn PWN hunters: If you should come across a bluing Psilocybe matching P. pellicolusa please smell it.
If you detect a scent reminiscent of Anethole (anise) please preserve a specimen or two for study and please PM me.