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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Mother of four, 57, died after picking lethal mushrooms from her garden to make soup for dinner

Mother of four, 57, died after picking lethal mushrooms from her garden to make soup for dinner.


  • Christina Hale went mushroom-picking for the first time in November
  • Husband Jocelyn Lynch also ate poisoned soup but recovered
  • Doctor examined Ms Hale and misdiagnosed her illness as norovirus
  • But coroner concludes that treatment could not have saved her from death
  • MydeaMedia
A housewife died after eating one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world - but just two days earlier, a doctor said she was just suffering from norovirus.
However, the mushroom which Christina Hale picked in her garden and cooked in a soup was so poisonous that doctors would probably have been unable to prevent her death in any case.
Her husband Jocelyn Lynch today told an inquest that he also fell ill after eating the tainted soup, but recovered because he had not had as much of it.
Ms Hale, 57, picked mushrooms from her garden in Bridgwater, Somerset to add to a shop-bought soup she planned to share with her husband on November 15 last year, West Somerset Coroner's Court heard.
Killer: A British woman died after eating death cap mushrooms from her garden (file photo)
Killer: A British woman died after eating death cap mushrooms from her garden (file photo)
The next morning, both began to feel unwell, and two days later were rushed to hospital after their condition deteriorated.
Ms Hale suffered from multiple organ failure, and died in intensive care the next day, surrounded by her family.
The inquest in Taunton heard that eating just half a death cap mushroom can be fatal, and there is no antidote to its poison.

Mr Lynch, 49, said that his wife gathered the mushrooms while he was at work - the first time she had ever done the chore by herself.
'We had picked mushrooms for mushroom soup before,' the property developer said. 'She hadn't done it on her own before.
'My wife prepared the soup while I was at work. Normally it was added to a can of Campbell's condensed soup.
'I had a bowl of mushroom soup that she gave me. She made the soup her main meal. All I know is I had one bowlful, I don't know how much the wife had.'


The death cap is the most dangerous mushroom, responsible for 95 per cent of all deaths from mushroom poisoning worldwide.
The deaths of Roman Emperor Claudius in 54AD and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740 are said to have been caused by eating death caps.
Patients die from organ failure within a few days unless they have a kidney and liver transplant.
Death caps are common across Europe and contain about 20 different poisons.
The strength of the main poison, alpha-Amanitin, is not reduced by freezing or cooking.
The following morning, both started to feel ill - Mr Lynch went to work but had to leave early, and returned home to find Ms Hale being sick.
On November 17, she called an out-of-hours medical service, telling the operator she had 'eaten some dodgy mushrooms', and received a home visit from a doctor.
'The doctor felt it was norovirus,' Mr Lynch said today. 'She thought the mushroom soup was incidental.'
Ms Hale was given an injection and some pills to treat the symptoms, and slept in the lounge after appearing to get better.
But that night, Mr Lynch was woken by shouting and found that his wife, who had called 999, was being treated by a doctor and paramedics.
Husband and wife were both admitted to Musgrove Park Hospital, where Ms Hale suffered a number of cardiac arrests.
Hospital consultant Helene Lindsay told the inquest the patient's heart stopped at least four times and her kidney and liver had also been poisoned by the mushroom.
Doctors treating Ms Hale consulted experts at the National Poison Centre in Cardiff, emailing them photographs of the mushrooms in order to identify them.
But Dr Lindsay said that the mother of four would probably not have survived even if she had been treated earlier.
'It may well have been that Christina had ingested enough of a quantity of mushrooms that whatever happened she was going to die,' she said.
'With a death cap mushroom just half a mushroom is enough to kill someone.'
The only treatment which could have saved her was a liver transplant, Dr Lindsay said, but she would have been too ill to undergo the operation.
Ms Hale died from multiple organ failure at the hospital on November 19, four days after eating the mushrooms.
Coroner Michael Rose recorded a verdict of death by misadventure as he praised the efforts of medics who fought to save Ms Hale's life.
'This is a very tragic case,' he said. 'The tragedy is that Christina had wanted some soup, she had picked mushrooms before to bolster and enhance Campbell's mushroom soup.
'She had picked out what we now know are death cap mushrooms, they contain many poisons. The problem with these mushrooms is that if you do eat them it does not taste unpleasant.'
Mr Rose said the delay in Ms Hale attending hospital had not affected her chances of survival.
'I am quite satisfied by the evidence that the assault that had been made from the toxins into the body of Christina was too great to survive,' he said. 'Even if she had been sent to Musgrove Park Hospital it would not have affected the outcome.'
Mr Rose warned others to be careful when picking mushrooms, saying no one should do so 'unless you know exactly what you are doing'.

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