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  • Gloria Ramirez was known to be the life of the party, a woman who was admired for her

  • joie de vivre.

  • Indeed, she was loved by everyone, foremost by her two children and her husband, the reverend

  • Brian Taylor.

  • Nothing about her life hinted at the fact that coursing through her veins, a toxic mystery

  • threatened to break out at any time.

  • All that changed on the fateful day of February 19, 1994, when she was rushed to the General

  • Hospital in Riverside, California.

  • Her heart was racing and her blood pressure had become dangerously low.

  • The woman could hardly string a sentence together and things didn't look good at all.

  • The doctors and nurses did their best to keep Ramirez alive, but what has confounded the

  • scientific community ever since is the fact that many of the people who treated her came

  • down with something awful and unexplainable.

  • It was as if Ramirez was toxic, her very presence like the approach of death's pale shadow

  • for medical stuff unfortunate enough to be around her...

  • But how does a person become toxic?

  • This case was unheard of, and as you'll find out, scientists are still debating what

  • happened.

  • Conspiracy theorists have their say in the matter, and if they're right, something

  • very dark happened that day.

  • Maybe here at the Infographics Show we can get to the bottom of this case.

  • We'll try our best, but we warn you, it's a complicated and amazing story at the same

  • time.

  • First of all, you should know that when Ramirez was admitted to the emergency room she was

  • already suffering from the late stages of cervical cancer.

  • She'd only known this for six weeks, since the cancer was what is sometimes called the

  • silent type.

  • Her having cancer is an important matter in this story, but it surely doesn't explain

  • what happened next.

  • Ok, so Ramirez was in a state of shockshe could hardly speak and her heart rate was

  • not stable and her breathing was erratic.

  • When asked to move her limbs or respond to questions she was unable to do so.

  • A nurse gave her three different kinds of sedatives to try and calm her down, but they

  • had no effect at all.

  • Things were now getting seriousRamirez's heart was failing herthe poor lady was

  • staring death in the face.

  • The doctor said this woman is going to diebring out the defibrillator.

  • Everyone stood back, and BOOM, hundreds of volts of electricity were delivered to Ramirez

  • to try and get her heart beating correctly again.

  • It wasn't working, so they gave her another shock.

  • At this point something strange happenedsomething none of the people around Ramirez had ever

  • seen before.

  • Her chest was suddenly covered in a viscous, oil-like substance, and a nurse said that

  • a garlic smell was coming from the dying woman's mouth.

  • This was not a vague smellit filled the entire room and everyone noticed it.

  • The puzzled and bewildered nurses and doctors, who had never seen anything like this before,

  • took a blood sample from Ramirez's arm.

  • But when they drew her blood, they made another shocking discovery- her blood positively reeked

  • of ammonia, strong enough to make some of the hospital staff choke and gag.

  • The nurse who drew the blood, one Susan Kane, noticed that strange clumps of something were

  • floating around in Ramirez's arm, and she turned to her colleague, Julie Corchynksi.

  • Hey, do you think these strange particles could be what's causing the ammonia smell?

  • Before Gorchynski could even respond, Kane fainted and fell to the floor.

  • A few minutes later, Gorchynski said she felt terribly light-headed and felt as if she was

  • about to throw up.

  • Like Kane, she was taken out of the emergency room, but before she could be asked about

  • her symptoms she also fainted.

  • Ramirez's blood was toxic, possibly lethal.

  • The emergency medical personnel sprung into action to contain the situation, but one by

  • one they too fell victims to Ramirez's toxic, alien-like blood.

  • A respiratory therapist named Maureen Welch was the next to go.

  • One second she was standing up, and the next second she was on the floor.

  • Something strange was certainly afoot, so the head doctor said get all the people outside

  • the emergency ward immediately and take them to the parking lot.

  • Something toxic was indeed making people very ill, and it was coming from Ramirez, who seemed

  • unaffected by her own volatile blood!

  • But of course they couldn't just leave Ramirez lying there.

  • Some staff had to stay behind to try and keep the woman alive.

  • The sad thing is, after 45 minutes of CPR and defibrillation, she died of kidney failure

  • that was related to her cancer.

  • Her death was not that unusual since she was in the late stages of cancer, but what was

  • incredibly unusual was the fact that 23 people who'd been close to this so-called toxic

  • lady became ill, with five folks having to be hospitalized because of dangerous muscle

  • spasms and shortness of breath.

  • One person almost didn't make it, but recovered after two weeks in intensive care.

  • After that, she had lifelong health problems.

  • . A team of people dressed in hazmat suits were

  • called in to handle the body and then check the room for any signs of toxins, strange

  • gases, or anything else that could make people ill.

  • They found nothing out of the ordinary.

  • There was no sign of anything that could have made people pass out.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services was then called in and two doctors investigated

  • the case.

  • Could the woman really have been toxic?

  • Was there such a thing as a toxic lady?

  • It was totally unheard of….it still is for that matter.

  • So, those two doctors, Ana Maria Osorio and Kirsten Waller, interviewed all the people

  • who had been in the emergency room that day.

  • That amounted to 34 staff, but it appeared that those who suffered the most severe illness

  • were the ones who had been the closest to Ramirez.

  • Most of the severe cases had been women, but all their blood tests revealed that nothing

  • had contaminated them.

  • This didn't make sense to the investigators, and they simply said that those people were

  • merely the victims of mass hysteria.

  • Maybe you don't know this, but mass hysteria tends to affect women more than men.

  • Ok, so case closed.

  • Those health professionals had just come down with a malady of the mind

  • No, the case wasn't closed, and it wouldn't be closed for a long time to come.

  • Some of those women that had been the worst affected were irate that the investigators

  • had said they'd been sickened only by a temporary madness.

  • They knew how they had feltthey had smelled the vicious odor coming from Ramirez's bodythey

  • had seen with their own eyes the sheen on her body and the strange particles in her

  • blood.

  • And anyway, they were seasoned professionals...they wouldn't become hysterical at the sight

  • of a sick person.

  • Was that investigation some kind of cover-up?

  • What was the hospital trying to hide?

  • Gorchynski was the iratest and she deserved to be, since after the incident she developed

  • hepatitis and something called avascular necrosis in her knees.

  • In simple terms that's the death of bone tissue.

  • It's a serious condition, and so of course Gorchynski didn't like being told she had

  • merely been hysterical.

  • She was right to be suspicious.

  • Now the story takes another turn, but certainly not its last turn.

  • Forensic pathologists came up with a postulation as to what might have happened.

  • We say might, because a lot of experts in the medical field did not agree with their

  • report.

  • They said that Ramirez had been taking something called dimethyl sulfoxide, what's usually

  • referred to as DMSO.

  • This can be used to treat pain, or speed up the healing of wounds.

  • It can be orally ingested or applied to the skin as a gel or cream.

  • There's nothing too usual about taking DMSO, and it's a drug that has been approved by

  • the FDA.

  • Moreover, those that have tasted it have said it tastes like garlic.

  • Hmm, so was this drug the reason for the garlic smell coming from Ramirez?

  • And could the sheen on her body have been from DMSO gel or cream?

  • Even if she had daubed herself with DMSO, that wouldn't have made people faint.

  • The investigators then added some more to the story.

  • They explained that when Ramirez was given oxygen, that might have turned DMSO into something

  • called dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2).

  • This substance has also been used as a medicine by people, and some experts believe it can

  • promote better health in small doses.

  • Trials, however, have revealed it can also have some nasty side effects.

  • The forensic pathologists said in their report that since this substance crystallizes at

  • room temperature that would explain the particles seen in Ramirez blood.

  • The report said there was a reason why things went crazy, and they postulated that the DMSO2

  • was then turned into the highly toxic dimethyl sulfate (DMSO4) after the electric shocks

  • were given to Ramirez.

  • They also said that the change in room temperature and oxygen being added to DMSO2 could have

  • converted it to the toxic DMSO4.

  • If a person inhales the vapors of dimethyl sulfate they can die over a period of hours.

  • In fact, one investigator read in a classified Department of Defense document that was written

  • in 1987 that just ten minutes' exposure to this substance can kill a person over a

  • period of time.

  • The document said that just one gram of it when dispersed in a cubic meter of air can

  • kill the people that breathe it.

  • The thing was, the Ramirez family said she had never taken DMSO and wouldn't have done

  • such a thing.

  • They called the hospital out and said the DMSO story was a big bag of bull and they

  • were covering something up.

  • What happened next is Ramirez was dug up, but this was two months after she'd been

  • buried.

  • The family demanded an independent autopsy, but the problem was her heart was missing.This

  • meant the family's pathologist couldn't really say what had happened.

  • He said the body was so decomposed it was difficult to get to the truth.

  • . Meanwhile, the Riverside Coroner's Office

  • stuck with the DMSO story.

  • The family was incensed, knowing full well that Ramirez had never used DMSO.

  • Her husband said he knew this for a matter of fact.

  • Other medical experts have chimed in on the matter saying that while the story is exceptional

  • and incredibly unusual, the DMSO postulation is the only thing that makes sense.

  • Still it's only a theory, just one that is an incredible theory, according to some

  • experts in medical science.

  • Not all medical science, though, including Hans Reich, a man who was an organic chemist

  • at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

  • He'd worked with these substances before and he said just couldn't see DMSO going

  • through these stages and turning into a dangerous vapor.

  • Then there were even more medical experts who came out and said the symptoms that the

  • hospital staff experienced just didn't match dimethyl sulfate poisoning.

  • The reason they knew what the symptoms look like was because in the past industrial workers

  • had been accidentally exposed to the stuff.

  • A physiologist and professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico named Jack

  • de la Torre said that exposure to the substance in vapor form would first act like tear gas

  • and the hospital staff would have cried.

  • That didn't happen.

  • He said that if dimethyl sulfate was to blame, it would have taken several hours for the

  • nasty effects to happen, and that would have affected the people's eyes, nose and mouth

  • and finally got in the lungs and possibly caused pulmonary edema.

  • Fainting on the spot, said de la Torre, aint what happens when you get hit with DMSO4.

  • Yet another medical expert called the DMSO4 theory a “chemical impossibility.”

  • Perhaps the incredible theory was not DMSO4 poisoning but the possibility of those staff

  • being exposed to a substance called Methylamine.

  • This smells like ammonia, and remember that Ramirez blood had the smell of ammonia.

  • Methylamine exposure can also cause eye, nose and throat irritation and if enough is breathed

  • in it can lead to edema of the lungs.

  • It can also cause dizziness and fainting, according to the National Advisory Committee

  • for Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Hazardous 5 Substances.

  • What you might not know about this substance is the fact it's used to make the illegal

  • drug called methamphetamine.

  • You might also not know that at the time Riverside County was a main distribution point for this

  • very strong type of speed.

  • But why on Earth would meth have been in a hospital?

  • The reason, say some conspiracy theorists, is that some staff were using IV bags to smuggle

  • meth.

  • It dissolves in water and it's sometimes transported in water.

  • If Ramirez was put on a meth drip, that would explain the fact her heart rate went through

  • the roof and she might have actually died of an overdose.

  • We should say that this is a wild theory and there's nothing substantial to back it up,

  • and it's highly unlikely that meth vapors would have been so toxic to the staff at the

  • hospital.

  • In the end, the story remains one of medical sciences greatest mysteries.

  • How did a dying woman become a chemical timebomb for the people around her?

  • Maybe some of our sleuths watching this show can put forward their own theory.

  • Now you really have to see this show, “What Is The Deadliest Substance On Earth?

  • Toxicity Comparison.”

  • Or, take a look at this video...

Gloria Ramirez was known to be the life of the party, a woman who was admired for her

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