I was blessed to be one of this young nurse’s first CPR patients, and she persevered and saved my life.
The 66-year-old guitarist from Brooksville, Florida, claimed that after receiving the blood thinner heparin in the hospital, his heart stopped.
McCullick is fatally allergic to a sugar called alpha-gal found in heparin, which is manufactured from pig intestines, though neither he nor his doctors were aware of this at the time.
McCullick claimed, “I collapsed and passed away on the table,” adding that it took seven minutes to restart his heart.
The bite of a lone star tick can result in alpha-gal syndrome, a reaction to a sugar present in red meat and dairy products.
Dr. Scott Commins’ Dedication to Studying Alpha-Gal Syndrome
According to estimates released on Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it may now rank as the tenth most prevalent food allergy in the US, impacting up to 450,000 people.
It is also one of the least well known.
Alpha-gal syndrome is just now being fully understood by scientists.
The sugar galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, often known as alpha-gal, is transmitted by lone star ticks and maybe other parasites.
We believe that they have an enzyme in their saliva that can produce alpha-gal, according to Dr. Scott Commins, associate chief for allergy and immunology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, who has dedicated his career to studying alpha-gal and is a co-author on the new studies published today by the CDC.
The alpha-gal enters the body through the skin when one of these ticks bites a human since the skin has its own immune sentinels ready to pounce on foreign invaders.
This sugar, which is present in non-primate mammals and in products derived from them, appears to put the body on high alert when exposed in this manner.