SOUTH EUCLID, OH (WOIO) - A common mistake that many sick people make landed a South Euclid mother in the hospital, and it nearly killed her.
Stephanie Soriano is a 28-year-old mother of a young daughter. When she got the flu in January, she treated it as many of us do, with over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and sleep aids.
What Stephanie did not know is that the medicines she was taking all contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, Nyquil, and a number of other medications.
The Food and Drug Administration says it's safe in moderation, but taking more than 3,000 milligrams a day can be toxic.
For Stephanie Soriano, it was. After nearly 10 days of battling flu symptoms, she got so sick, she had to be hospitalized.
"I passed out in the ambulance, so I have no recollection from Wednesday night until Saturday when I woke up," she said.
By Stephanie's bedside, her boyfriend, Benjamin Beam, and the rest of her family members, were making tough choices. They learned Stephanie's liver, always healthy before, was failing. She needed a transplant.
"It was really scary. I wasn't really sure how I could help her out, besides listening to everything the doctors were saying," said Beam.
They knew Stephanie could be waiting weeks or months for a liver. She would have to depend on an organ donation, and the painful choice of another family. Just a few hours after her name made it onto the organ transplant list, though, her doctors found a match.
"It was a miracle," said Beam.
"That's something that I will never stop thanking everyone that definitely helped out, especially the donor family," added Stephanie.
She still faces a long road to recovery, but she got out of the hospital just two days after her surgery. She's already walking on her own, and she's hoping to go back to work soon.
Unfortunately, doctors say stories like Stephanie's aren't as rare as you think.
"We see at University Hospitals, probably about 4-10 Tylenol overdoses. They're always accidental, like when you combine Tylenol PM plus daily dose plus some of the others that don't actually tell you they have Tylenol," said Dr. Kenneth Chavin of University Hospitals, who treated Stephanie.
Stephanie says she's grateful to the doctors who treated her, who she considers family. Because of her experience, she's hoping to go back to school in the summer, pursuing a career in medicine. She also wants the loved ones of her liver donor to know how grateful she is for them. Their decision has allowed her to continue to be a mother to her six-year-old daughter, Sophia.
"She told me, she was like, 'I wish you wouldn't have to go through this', but I looked at her and I'm like, 'I'm happy. You know, I'm definitely very happy that I'm still here and don't worry, mommy is doing amazing.'"
To find out more about becoming an organ donor, go here.
To donate to Stephanie Soriano's GoFundMe to help with medical expenses, click here.