Family members say that a Howell Township woman was one of two Michigan residents who died after being treated with potentially contaminated steroid injections that health officials said were linked to an outbreak of Fungal Meningitis.
Lilian Cary, 67, died Sept. 30 after been treated with steroid shots for chronic back pain at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, according to her husband, George Cary. Michigan Pain Specialists were one of four Michigan locations to receive the contaminated steroids.
The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) reported Tuesday that three women have died as a result of fungal meningitis believed to be linked to the contaminated steroids that have now been recalled: a 56-year-old Genesee County woman, a 67-year-old Livingston County woman and a 78-year-old Washtenaw County woman.
Aside from age, gender, and location of residence, the MDCH cannot legally release any additional information regarding the three deaths in Michigan because of Health Information Protection laws.
Michigan currently has 25 confirmed meningitis cases associated with this outbreak, including three deaths. As of Oct. 9, 119 cases and 11 deaths have been reported from 10 states
Cary held a press conference with his two daughters, Heather Andrus and Jill Bloser in front of the family home in Howell on Tuesday. He said he wanted people to know his wife was more than just a number or a statistic.
"She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother," he said.
"I think that right now, the grief and this belief that something like this could happen is still there," Bloser said. "We haven't had much time to get online and see what could be to blame for this. The anger has not yet a factor."
"Right now we're in the process of celebrating Lilian's life. We are trying to keep ourselves together and focus on healing ourselves," Cary added.
Cary said both he and his wife were treated with the recalled medication, but Lilian showed many signs of Meningitis, including weakness, fever, headache and sensitivity to light.
She was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor on Sept. 21 and was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and undergoing aggressive treatment.
"She was showing positive signs of improvement," Cary said of his late wife. "She was walking the halls, answering emails and Skyping with her grandson."
Then on Sept. 25, Lilian became unresponsive. Cary said doctors advised him that his wife had suffered a massive basilar arterial stroke in her brain stem.
Cary said he continues to monitor his health and his children and grandchildren are horrified at the thought they could lose both parents and grandparents.
"America has a strong belief in the medical system and the political system that when they purchase a service or a product that it's going to do what it says - that it's safe - it performs what it's supposed to do," Cary said. "We don't have an expectation of a bulky regulatory medical system that allows these types of mistakes to be made. Perhaps the message is 'Wake up, America.'"