A 25-year-old Indian woman, who almost died after consuming mushrooms laced with death caps, is suing Australia's largest supermarket chain Woolworths for selling the food item to her.
Rajvir Kaur, a Newcastle resident, suffered severe food poisoning after she ate a curry cooked by her mother in April last year. Kaur had bought button mushrooms which had become contaminated with a number of death cap mushrooms, a highly poisonous fungus that looks similar to a normal mushroom but releases deadly toxins into the body if consumed, according to Sydney Morning Herald.
She barely survived after slipping into a week-long coma following an emergency liver transplant, multiple organ failure, and follow-up surgery on her bowel. "I'm lucky to be alive. The doctors said my body is strong. I survived a lot of hours without a liver," Kaur, who was in hospital for four months, said.
Her mother, who cooked the meal, and her housemate also fell ill after eating the mushroom and potato curry.
Doctors had to give Kaur a liver donated by a patient with a different blood type, meaning she must take 20 different medications every day to stop her body rejecting the organ. Now, Kaur is suing Woolworths.
Woolworths, however, is denying the claim, and cites an ACT Health and ACT Police investigation into the incident last year.
"As reported last year, ACT Health and ACT Police found there was no evidence that these mushrooms were sold at Woolworths," a spokeswoman for the store said. "We have nothing else to add," she said.
But Kaur believes the mushrooms were purchased up to a fortnight before her mother used in the curry, meaning that it was unlikely that the same batch would have been present at the time of the investigation.
In addition to the day-to-day fight to remain healthy, Kaur is now also facing a battle to stay in the country. She is on a bridging visa and may be forced to return to India if the immigration department does not accept her application for permanent residency.
She cannot work and is being supported by the local Sikh community. "If I am forced to go back to India, I will die," she said.
"I'm going to need medical care for the rest of my life and I can't get it there. This is the place where I was poisoned and I think I should be able to stay," she said.
Kaur has no record of the transaction as she paid cash on the day in question and had no reason to keep the receipt. However, there is strong evidence that death cap mushrooms were the source of the poisoning, her lawyer said.