The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently ordered a recall of OxyElite Pro dietary supplements, a popular weight loss aid one Cleveland woman believes is to blame for her recent liver problems.
"I got a ton of blood work done, and this morning I just had a biopsy of my liver," explained Phetsamone Senevoravong, who is now a patient at University Hospitals.
"Just because it says it's there to make you feel good or look good, it's not always good for you," she continued. "We just gotta do our research and be careful what you buy and who you buy it from."
Senevoravong began using OxyElite Pro in June and started feeling symptoms in September.
"It wasn't until the end of September I started feeling kind of nauseated and feeling like I'm always about to vomit," she explained. "I didn't connect the dots I was actually thinking maybe it's something I ate."
Shortly after a friend urged Senevoravong to visit a doctor, she says she began to connect the dots.
"Something just told me to tell him about the dietary supplement that I was taking," said Senevoravong. "He looked it up on his phone quickly, and here it was pulled from the shelf."
According to the FDA Senevoravong's case is just one of more than 50 that have been reported nationwide.
Doctors say nearly two dozen OxyElite Pro customers have been hospitalized, while two others needed liver transplants, and one person has died.
"There have been a lot of supplements over the years that have caused liver problems, and, literally, we generally don't even hear about these things … and then all of a sudden we hear about several cases," explained Dr. Stanley Martin Cohen, UH medical director of hepatology.
"With the supplements, and this goes across many different herbal products, we don't even know what a lot of them do unfortunately. We don't even know what a lot of them contain, so what's listed on a label might be very different than what you're actually getting," he continued.
"I feel betrayed more than anything like I really gave them money to actually kill me slowly -- that's how I felt," said Senevoravong. "I wanted to be healthy so much that it made me unhealthy."