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New warnings recommended for MRI “dye”
FDA advisors have voted overwhelmingly to add new warnings to commonly used MRI contrast agents or “dye.” This following our cover story describing patients who became seriously ill after their bodies retained the toxic gadolinium in the “dye” after repeated MRIs. One of the patients we spoke to was the wife of actor Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris and his wife Gena describe her ordeal caused by MRI “dye”
Gena Norris had three MRIs in one week to evaluate her rheumatoid arthritis. The MRIs triggered a cascade of mysterious health issues that nearly killed her.
“I was in the emergency room for like 5 or 6 nights in a row and the symptoms had continued to get worse and worse. And by the fourth, fifth, sixth night, the burning just kept traveling and I would go in and they’d say, well what’s wrong with you? And I’m like I, I don’t know. I don’t feel good. And I’m just, I’m burning. I, that’s all I can tell you is I’m burning all over. I feel like I have acid everywhere in my tissues, I’m just, I’m on fire.” –Gena Norris
Doctors tested her for everything from cancer to ALS, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, but were mystified. Gena began a desperate search and turned up published literature and patient accounts pointing to one thing: poisoning from a substance injected into her before the MRI. It contains a toxic heavy metal called gadolinium.
Gena continued: “When we got to the hospital in Houston this last time, and I’m so bad and I said, listen, I am sober enough in my thinking right now, because I had such brain issues going on, I said I’m only going to be able to tell you this one time and I need you to listen to me very closely. I have been poisoned with gadolinium or by gadolinium and we don’t have much time to figure out how to get this out of my body or I am going to die.”
Watch our Full Measure cover story for the rest of Gena’s interview:
For years, advocates have been asking the FDA to schedule a meeting to examine the latest patient complaints and data. When the meeting was finally scheduled for this week, FDA advisers agreed 15-1 to broaden warnings about MRI gadolinium-based contrast agents. The only dissenting vote was from an advisory board member who said the added warnings aren’t strong enough that that most people will never see them.
Chuck and Gena Norris, and two of their children
In 2015, the FDA approved the first gadolinium IRS contrast agent for infants and babies under age two. The new warnings, though, add children and pregnant women to the list of those who may be at higher risk for injury from MRI dye which formerly included only people with kidney problems.
Historically, doctors and scientists said the toxic gadolinium in MRI dye was expelled from the body quickly after the procedure. They now say that isn’t always the case.
Despite the recommended warnings, the FDA panel said there is no definitive, conclusive evidence linking MRI dye to a wide range of reported problems. The companies that make the dyes have said it is extremely safe. A European health commission recently recommended suspending use of the dyes. Industry specialists recently issued an advisory saying that MRI dye should be used only when absolutely necessary and after a risk benefit analysis in each patient. Order the New York Times bestseller “The Smear” anywhere today.
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