Gloria Ramirez, a Riverside, California native who died on February 19, 1994, earned the nickname “the Toxic Lady” or “the Toxic Woman” because multiple hospital staff members grew ill after coming into contact with her body and blood.
She had late-stage cervical cancer and had been checked into the emergency room. Several hospital staff members passed out while caring for Ramirez, and others suffered from symptoms like muscle spasms and shortness of breath.
Five employees needed to be hospitalized, and one spent two weeks in an intensive care unit.
Ramirez passed away due to cancer-related complications shortly after getting to the hospital. At first, the occurrence was thought to be a case of mass hysteria.
According to a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory inquiry, Ramirez self-administered dimethyl sulfoxide as a pain reliever, which in the emergency room underwent a sequence of chemical reactions that turned into dimethyl sulfate, a very toxic and highly carcinogenic alkylating substance.
The Riverside Coroner’s Office has approved this theory, which is also included in the Forensic Science International publication.
What Hospital Did Gloria Ramirez Go To?
On the evening of February 19, 1994, at 8:15 p.m., Ramirez was taken by paramedics to the emergency room of Riverside General Hospital in Riverside while experiencing acute heart palpitations. She had tachycardia, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, and was disoriented.
To calm her down, the medical personnel gave her injections of lorazepam, midazolam, and diazepam.
Ramirez’s body immediately began to have an oily sheen, and several people smelled what they believed to be a fruity, garlic-like stench coming from her mouth as the person attempted to defibrillate her heart when it became evident that she was not responding well to therapy.
When registered nurse Susan Kane took a blood sample from Ramirez’s arm, she smelled something resembling ammonia from the tube.
She handed the tube to medical resident Julie Gorchynski, who observed manila-colored specks circling in the blood. Kane passed out at this point and was taken out of the room. Gorchynski started to feel sick shortly after that.
She left the trauma area and sat at a nurse’s desk while claiming to be dizzy. A staff member asked her whether she was okay, but before she could answer, she too passed out. The third person to lose consciousness was respiratory therapist Maureen Welch, working in the trauma room.
The staff was instructed to take all patients from the emergency room to the hospital’s parking lot. In total, 23 persons fell ill, and five were admitted to the hospital. Ramirez was stabilized by a minimal staff that remained on site.
But after 45 minutes of CPR and defibrillation, Ramirez was declared dead due to kidney failure brought on by her malignant disease at 8:50 p.m.
What Was Gloria Ramirez’s Blood?
The Department of Health and Human Services of California was contacted by the county health department and two scientists, Drs. Ana Maria Osorio and Kirsten Waller were assigned to the investigation.
Thirty-four hospital employees working in the emergency room on February 19 were questioned. Osorio and Waller used a standardized questionnaire to discover patterns among those who had experienced severe symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms.
The risk was most significant for those who handled Ramirez’s intravenous lines while working within two feet of her. The survey discovered that individuals affected tended to be women rather than men, and they all had regular blood tests after the exposure.
However, other criteria associated with severe symptoms did not match a scenario in which gases had been released. They thought there was widespread panic among the hospital staff.
Gorchynski cited her medical history to support her denial that she had been a victim of mass hysteria. She spent two weeks in the intensive care unit with breathing issues following the exposure. Her knees experienced avascular necrosis and hepatitis.
The Riverside Coroner’s Office contacted Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to investigate the occurrence. According to Livermore Labs ‘ hypothesis, Ramirez may have been using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a solvent that is effective as a degreaser, as a home treatment for discomfort.
According to users, the taste of this drug is similar to garlic. It’s available in gel form at hardware stores and might also account for Ramirez’s body’s greasy appearance. The Livermore researchers hypothesized that Ramirez’s kidney failure-related urine obstruction may have contributed to the DMSO buildup in her system.
The paramedics’ oxygen administration would have reacted with the DMSO to create dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2). Crystals of DMSO2, known to form at room temperature, were found in several of Ramirez’s blood samples.
After receiving electric shocks during emergency defibrillation, the DMSO2 may have changed into the highly poisonous dimethyl ester of sulfuric acid, dimethyl sulfate (DMSO4), which may have contributed to some of the symptoms that the emergency department staff experienced.
On The New Detectives, the Livermore scientists hypothesized that the blood’s temperature fluctuation from Ramirez’s body at 98.6 °F (37 °C) to the emergency room at 64 °F (18 °C) may have influenced its conversion from DMSO2 to DMSO4. However, this has not been verified.
Where is Gloria Ramirez Buried?
Her severely decayed remains were released for an independent examination and burial two months after Ramirez died. The Riverside Coroner’s Office accepted Livermore’s DMSO finding as the most likely explanation for the symptoms of the medical staff, but her family objected.
Her heart was missing, her other organs were tainted with feces, and her body was too badly decomposed for the pathologist working with the Ramirez family to determine a cause of death. Ramirez was interred in Riverside’s Olivewood Memorial Park on April 20, 1994, 10 weeks after she passed away.
Technical Forensic Analysis’s Current State
Introductory forensic science textbooks are starting to reference Patrick M. Grant of the Livermore Forensic Science Center’s potential chemical explanation for this incident.
Although it has several flaws, the proposed scenario is the “most scientific explanation to date,” according to Houck and Siegel, who claim that “beyond this proposal, no convincing explanation has yet been presented for the peculiar case of Gloria Ramirez.”
Grant’s theories and judgments on the incident were examined by qualified forensic scientists, chemists, and toxicologists; they passed peer review in a recognized, refereed journal, and Forensic Science International published them.
In the first study, two putative chemical reaction pathways that could have produced dimethyl sulfate from precursors dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl sulfone were described in technical detail.
The second statement provided further evidence in support of the hypothesized chemical scenario and provided details on some of the case’s sociology and entrenched interests.
Another Explanation of Why Gloria Ramirez’s Body Was Toxic
This incidence has a possible chemical explanation, according to research. The fictitious scenario relies on converting dimethyl sulfoxide, a common solvent, into dimethyl sulfone and dimethyl sulfate.
The latter substance is a very poisonous, volatile chemical that, even in small doses, may be quite dangerous to people. Additionally, it could be more environmentally persistent. Suppose this hypothesized metabolic rally occurred during the emergency room incident.
In that case, a large portion of the mystery surrounding the events at the hospital may be explained. Even though no analyses relevant to this event discovered dimethyl sulfate, there are valid scientific explanations for this.
In Ramirez’s blood, the concentration of the sulfate anion, a hydrolysis byproduct of dimethyl sulfate, was noticeably higher.
The symptoms described by the hospital staff victims seem to be pretty compatible with exposure to dimethyl sulfate.
RIP Gloria Ramirez
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?