Samantha Goldsmith has her whole life ahead of her.
“I’m a young mom with two kids and I just want to be here for them,” says Samantha.
But the future is scary for the 31-year old who says her body retained a chemical agent during an MRI back in July.
Samantha says, “I went to bed that night and woke up the next morning, 12 hours later with a pain in my right shoulder blade, in the back, and it just felt like a stabbing pain.”
That pain eventually spread.
“My hands feel like I’m holding onto something and I’m being electrocuted just up my arms. My feet are burning. I just feel like I’m toxic,” says Samantha.
The contrast agent is called Gadolinium. It’s used to help give doctors a clearer image in an MRI. It’s supposed to be released through the kidneys within hours, but Samantha says, that was not the case for her.
“I did a twenty-four hour unprovoked urine analysis and 31 days after the MRI, the reference range is a .019, and I was a 11.6, which is 600 times what should be in me,” says Samantha.
Samantha is not the first person to speak out about this. Gena Norris, wife of Chuck Norris, spoke on camera to “Full Measure” about what she went through following an MRI.
Gena Norris said to the reporter, “I just heard that still small voice deep inside of me that said, Gena your body is dying, and I walked out of the bathroom and he just took one look at me and he knew. I’m about to lose my wife"
Norris turned to alternative medicine, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments. A luxury not everyone has.
Samantha says, “I know that she used hyperbaric chambers. I’ve heard that she used stem cells and went to China for alternative medicine, spent 2.2 million dollars to get well. That’s not something that I have the resource to do.”
Samantha has been working with a naturopathic physician to remove the gadolinium from her system. But so far, not much has changed.
She says, “Every morning I wake up and I dry brush myself to stimulate my lymphatic system. I’ve been taking Epson salt baths, going to infrared saunas.”
Dr. Carleton Sexton is Chief of Radiology at Medstar Union Memorial and Good Samaritan Hospitals. He is not familiar with Samantha’s case, but agreed to speak with us about the risks associated with an MRI, including gadolinium- something he says they use infrequently.
“With gadolinium there are risks of allergy, allergic reaction and then there is a disease called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, which was identified about 10 years ago we’ve been using gadolinium for 25 years, millions of doses a year of gadolinium, and about 10 years ago a very rare disease where the skin becomes scarred and the internal organs can become scarred was identified-- all those patients had significant renal disease, kidney disease at the time they were injected,” says Dr. Sexton.
Dr. Sexton stresses MRI’s are safe and in his 25 years, he has never seen someone have side effects related to gadolinium.
He says, “MRI is very safe. We must keep in mind everything we do is a cost benefit analysis. MRI gets wonderful images, diagnosis things earlier than anything than we've had before it.”
Despite its safety, the FDA is taking notice.
There have been 132 cases in the US of adverse side effects from Gadolinium Based Contrast Agents or GBCA’s reported to the FDA—but because of limitations associated with the reporting system—including duplicate and incomplete reports, the FDA tells ABC2, it cannot confirm that number.
The FDA does say, recent studies conducted in people and animals have confirmed gadolinium can remain in the brain even in individuals with normal kidney function although at this time, the agency has not identified any adverse effects.
The FDA continues to say major known toxicities of GBCAs are hypersensitivity reactions and Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, which occurs overwhelmingly in patients with severe renal failure
Meantime, Samantha is still looking for a doctor and looking for answers as to how to permanently remove the gadolinium from her system
“I feel just like I’m so young and I have two amazing beautiful little children who deserve a mom, and don’t deserve a sick mom, because I wasn't sick before this,” says Samantha.
In September, an advisory committee voted for recommending adding a warning to labels about gadolinium retention for GBCA’s used during MRI.
The FDA will ultimately make the final decision.
The FDA says, it will continue to assess the data on gadolinium retention in the brain and other organs and is urging patients to report any side effects. To report side effects click here.
Meanwhile, Chuck Norris and his wife Gena are now suing several manufacturers of gadolinium contrast agents.
They are seeking more than $10-million dollars in damages from companies they say should have warned them of the risks.