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College student has legs and fingers amputated, suffers multiple-organ failure after eating leftover noodles

Juli Leonard/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Hours after eating his roommate's Asian restaurant leftovers, a 19-year-old college student in Massachusetts broke out in a rash, suffered multiple organ failures, and had to have both of his legs and parts of all of his fingers amputated.

The shocking episode first documented by the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2021 recirculated on the internet this week after a dramatized portrayal was uploaded on YouTube. Now some are taking the bizarre occurrence as a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of consuming leftover food.

It all started roughly 20 hours after the student polished off his roommate's rice, chicken, and lo mein meal from the day before. That's when he began to experience severe headaches, neck stiffness, and abdominal discomfort with vomiting, and noticed that his skin had turned a shade of purple. Growing increasingly concerned, the student decided to seek medical help.

According to the report, he was admitted to the hospital for "shock, multiple organ failure, and rash." Shortly after, his condition quickly declined. He experienced abnormally rapid breathing, high blood pressure, and the oxygen levels in his blood decreased significantly.

He was soon transferred to the emergency department of a different hospital, where he was eventually diagnosed with meningococcal purpura fulminan disease, which according to the report, explained his stiff neck, nausea, respiratory collapse, shock, and organ failure. Purpura fulminan is a complication that comes with septic shock.

The rare and dangerous condition is caused by the growth of bacteria and, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can lead to death "in a matter of hours."

Newsweek reported that the student's rash spread all over his body and resulted in necrosis, the death of tissue and cells, and the development of gangrene. Doctors decided to amputate parts of all 10 of his fingers and both of his legs from the knee down. He also reportedly needed a pacemaker for 13 days to treat cardiac dysfunction.

The friend who had eaten the same rice, chicken, and lo mein meal told hospital staff that he had vomited once after eating it but never got any sicker than that. The hospitalized student was reported as healthy overall despite being a regular smoker and occasional drinker.

The medical team later discovered that the hospitalized student had only received one of three doses of meningococcal vaccine without a booster and had also only received one dose of the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine out of two or three doses recommended by the CDC.

Health experts warn that all leftover food should be promptly stored in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of bacteria.

A Student Ate Suspicious Leftovers For Lunch. This Is What Happened To His Limbs. www.youtube.com

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