'Just hell': Boy brain damaged after eating lettuce

Brianne Tolj
·2-min read

A young boy’s meal during a road trip with his parents has changed his life forever.

In 2018, Nathan Parker and Karla Terry and their children, including then-toddler Lucas, drove from British Colombia, Canada, to California to see Disneyland, according to local publication CBC.

It was the family’s first trip outside of the country.

However, during a pit stop at a small roadside restaurant, then-two-year-old Lucas ate some cos lettuce and began feeling ill.

Scared for his health, the family turned around and drove back to Canada, where they were told he had contracted E. coli and it had already shut down one of his kidneys.

Lucas Parker
Lucas Parker can no longer walk, talk or see. Source: David MacIntosh/CBC

It also led to brain injuries and the now five-year-old has been left unable to walk, talk or see, according to the publication.

"Lucas was just a beaming ray of light … he was a caring person … a cheeky boy, a loving brother," Mr Parker said.

"I remember him in the hospital waking up out of a coma and looking around, just lost, not talking, not walking, not moving much.

“Such a brain injury that his brain was so swollen that there was no comfort, there was nothing. It was just hell."

At the time Lucas fell ill there was an E. coli outbreak in the US and Canada, leaving 35 people hospitalised.

E. coli is bacteria found in animals and humans. While some strains are fine, others can make people very ill and can lead to urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US Food and Drug Administration has linked a couple of outbreaks to lettuce fields being planted in close proximity to cows.

Mr Parker told CBC he thinks more needs to be done to educate people about the dangers of E. coli.

"I want people to be made aware that anything, you know, should never be taken for granted — because you could eat something that can just take your life away, take your joy away,” he said.

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