Woman's simple mistake while battling flu leads to liver failure

CLEVELAND (WJW) --  Stephanie Soriano took over-the-counter medication while fighting the flu in January.

The busy mom wanted to knock out the illness so she could keep going.

“I was taking Tylenol during the day, towards the evening as well; and at nighttime, so I could sleep, I took NyQuil. Then, I would wake up around two to three in the morning and take Theraflu as well," Stephanie said.

Although everything she took would work on cold symptoms, they all had one common ingredient: acetaminophen.

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Emergency room nurse Kathy Nguyen wears a mask as deals with flu patients at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu as his girlfriend Mayra Mora looks on in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Doug Hasselo, 87 of Carlsbad, California, is treated for the flu by float nurse Nellie Reyes in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, gets an IV from emergency room nurse Christine Bauer at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Richard Horner wears a mask as he deals with flu patients at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A doctor hold a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Boxes of vaccines against the flu are seen as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 29: Troy Ali, 21 of Portland receives a flu shot from Greater Portland Health medical assistant Anissa Millette at the clinic in Franklin Towers on Cumberland Ave on Friday, December 29, 2017. (Staff Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Vials of the Fluvirin influenza vaccine are displayed at a Walgreens phramacy on January 22, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A strong strain of H3N2 influenza has claimed the lives of 74 Californians under the age of 65 since the flu season began in October of last year. People are being encouraged to get flu shots even through the vaccine has been only 30% effective in combating the influenza. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: A sign advertising flu shots is displayed at a Walgreens phramacy on January 22, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A strong strain of H3N2 influenza has claimed the lives of 74 Californians under the age of 65 since the flu season began in October of last year. People are being encouraged to get flu shots even through the vaccine has been only 30% effective in combating the influenza. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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After several days of taking over-the-counter remedies to get rid of the flu, Stephanie began to feel worse.

“I was coming in and out of consciousness; I wanted water badly," Stephanie said.

Doctors say Stephanie had unknowingly poisoned her liver with acetaminophen.

Ordinarily, acetaminophen is a safe and effective drug but the Food and Drug Administration has warned that too much can damage liver function.

In Stephanie’s case, doctors say the amount she was taking was slowly killing her liver cells to the point where it had ceased to function.

Stephanie was rushed to University Hospitals where her family and friends got the news that she needed a new liver.

“Thursday night they put her on the list. They told us all the worst-case scenarios, about it could be months, may not be able to find a match," Stephanie’s boyfriend, Ben Beam, said.

But there was a match. She was on the list only a day or so when a donor liver was found in Philadelphia.

The donor saved Stephanie’s life and her doctors at UH say her recovery after the transplant is astounding.

A simple mistake almost cost her life and she's grateful for that second chance and the family that gave her so much.

“Thank you. It's a gift like none other. I’ve always been an organ donor myself but you never really sit there and think that such a big ordeal can definitely happen to you.”

The Food and Drug Administration changed its guidelines just last year that recommends that you take no more than 3000 milligrams of acetaminophen products in a day.

It's also advisable to read the labels of any over-the-counter cold or flu medications.

Meantime, Stephanie says she hopes to one day meet her donor family and thank them in person.

If you would like more information about organ donation you can click here.

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