Santa Fe woman shows how deadly toxic black mold can be

Posted at: 09/29/2013 11:29 PM
Updated at: 09/30/2013 8:32 AM
By: Kim Tobin, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The monsoon storms that moved through New Mexico brought rain and flooding.

Something deadly could be growing inside your walls. 

One Santa Fe woman said she almost died after she was sickened by toxic black mold.

From a healthy, young mom to a disabled woman, battling for her life.

"It can kill you," Gina Lopez said. "It can definitely kill you."

Lopez lived with toxic black mold secretly growing in the ceiling above her bed for years.

Problems surfaced three years ago, when she could not remember parts of her day, and she had trouble talking.

"One day it hit me, to where I was stuttering so bad that I couldn't talk, couldn't walk," Lopez said. "They had to take me to the emergency room."

Lopez says doctors were stumped, until her daughter, Victoria, slept in her bed for a short amount of time. And the 14-year-old started having the same symptoms. 

In the years since, a lab confirmed it was toxic black mold. Lopez has been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory response syndrome, causing her legs to swell.

Lopez also had cysts and tumors on her brain and in her spinal canal.

"It was so hard and I hate it so much," Victoria said.

"There was a point in time where I couldn't explain what was going on," said Lopez. "My kids had to sit there and watch me, and watch my health failing. And the doctor, he couldn't tell me what was wrong."

Mold illness is not taught in medical school. Doctors say there is still much research to be done.

Lopez was referred to a doctor in Roswell who is only one of four physicians in the U.S. certified to treat mold illness.

Slowly, she is improving.

"If I can turn this negative that we suffered,into a positive for my grandchildren someday and for people out there that have suffered down south, with the flooding, then it's a good thing," Lopez said.

Not all mold is toxic black mold. And not everyone will suffer the way Lopez did.

If you suspect this mold is growing in your home, have it tested.  

For links to mold inspection companies as well as who to contact if you feel you are sick from mold exposure, click here