Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ramirez

Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA
Death 19 Feb 1994 (aged 31)
Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA
Burial Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA
Memorial ID 121992703 · View Source
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About 8:15 in the evening on February 19, 1994, Ramirez, suffering from the effects of advanced cervical cancer, was brought into the emergency room of Riverside General Hospital by paramedics. She was extremely confused, and suffering from bradycardia and Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

The medical staff injected her with Valium, Versed, and Ativan to sedate her. When it became clear that Ramirez was responding poorly to treatment, the staff tried to defibrillate her heart; at that point several people saw an oily sheen covering Ramirez's body, and some noticed a fruity, garlic-like odor that they thought was coming from her mouth. A registered nurse named Susan Kane attempted to draw blood from Ramirez's arm, and noticed an ammonia like smell coming from the tube.

She passed the syringe to Julie Gorchynski, a medical resident who noticed manila-colored particles floating in the blood. At this point, Kane fainted and was removed from the room. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Gorchynski began to feel nauseated. Complaining that she was light-headed, she left the trauma room and sat at a nurse's desk. A staff member asked her if she was okay, but before she could respond she also fainted. Maureen Welch, a respiratory therapist who was assisting in the trauma room was the third to pass out. The staff was then ordered to evacuate all emergency room patients to the parking lot outside the hospital. A skeleton crew stayed behind to stabilize Ramirez. At 8:50pm, after 45 minutes of CPR and defibrillation, Ramirez was pronounced dead from kidney failure related to her cancer.

The county health department called in California's Department of Health and Human Services, which put two scientists on the case, Doctors Ana Maria Osorio and Kirsten Waller. They interviewed 34 hospital staff who had been working in the emergency room on February 19. Using a standardized questionnaire, Osorio and Waller found that the people who had developed severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms tended to have certain things in common. People who had worked within two feet of Ramirez and had handled her intravenous lines had been at high risk. But other factors that correlated with severe symptoms didn't seem to match a scenario in which fumes had been released: the survey found that those afflicted tended to be women rather than men, and they all had normal blood tests after the exposure.

Dr. Gorchynski denied that she had been affected by mass hysteria, and pointed to her own medical history as evidence. After the exposure, she spent two weeks in the intensive care unit with breathing problems, she developed hepatitis and avascular necrosis in her knees. Eager to clear her name and win her lawsuit against General Hospital in Riverside, she and RN Susan Kane contacted Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Livermore Labs postulated that Ramirez had been using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a solvent, as a home remedy for pain. Users of this substance report that it has a garlic-like taste. The Livermore scientists theorized that the DMSO in Ramirez's system might have built up, due to urinary blockage. Oxygen administered by the paramedics would have combined with the DMSO to form dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2). DMSO2 is known to crystallize at room temperature, and crystals were observed in some of Ramirez's drawn blood. Electric shocks administered during emergency defibrillation could have then converted the DMSO2 into dimethyl sulfate (DMSO4), a powerful poisonous gas, exposure to which could have caused the reported symptoms of the emergency room staff.

Two months after Ramirez died, her badly decomposed body was released for an independent autopsy and burial. The Riverside Coroner's Office hailed Livermore's DMSO conclusion as the probable cause of the hospital workers' symptoms, while her family disagreed. The Ramirez family's pathologist was unable to determine a cause of death because her heart was missing, her other organs were cross-contaminated with fecal matter, and her body was too badly decomposed. Ten weeks after she died, Ramirez was buried in an unmarked grave at Olivewood Memorial Park in Riverside.

Gravesite Details buried April 20th

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  • Created by: §ĸỵнï
  • Added: 21 Dec 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 121992703
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gloria Ramirez (11 Jan 1963–19 Feb 1994), Find a Grave Memorial no. 121992703, citing Olivewood Cemetery, Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA ; Maintained by §ĸỵнï (contributor 47451365) .