Nearly 30 years ago, an emergency event at a hospital left the medical community baffled. When a woman was brought in after a cardiac arrest, the subsequent events turned her case into an enduring enigma.
Gloria Ramirez, 31, later dubbed ‘The Toxic Lady’ by the press, was grappling with advanced ovarian cancer. She was admitted to Riverside General Hospital in California for heart-related issues in February 1994, as covered by the New York Times.
However, things took a surreal turn when her blood revealed crystal-like particles and multiple hospital staff fell seriously sick after handling it. While preparing to defibrillate her, nurses observed an unusual oily layer on Ramirez’s skin.
Additionally, an odd mix of fruity and garlic-like smells wafted in the air. The mystery deepened when, upon drawing her blood, they found manila-colored particles suspended in it, emitting an ammonia scent.
In a shocking turn, a nurse fainted and another started experiencing breathing difficulties, leading to a decision to evacuate the emergency room. Of the chaos, 23 medical professionals exhibited symptoms, with five requiring hospitalization, leaving only a few to attend to Ramirez.
Despite 45 minutes of relentless efforts, Ramirez succumbed. The official statement attributed her demise to heart failure stemming from kidney complications due to advanced cervical cancer. Yet, the event had some staff hospitalized for up to 10 days, with one even enduring a two-week ICU stay.
To investigate further, a hazmat team took charge of Ramirez’s body. One plausible hypothesis emerged from the post-mortem investigations. They theorized Ramirez might have been utilizing dimethyl sulfoxide for her cancer-related pain.
The working theory proposes that the defibrillator’s electrical shocks could have changed this compound to dimethyl sulfate, a highly toxic gas lethal to oral, pulmonary, and ocular cells.
If inhaled, it can trigger symptoms like paralysis, delirium, and spasms. This compound could potentially morph into dimethyl sulfone, known to crystallize under certain room temperature conditions.
This bizarre incident has since fueled discussions on the internet, with many expressing their astonishment at the unprecedented event.