HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "The pain was excruciating," says Everine Van Houten. The Hilo woman who works at Hilo Medical Center had no idea why she was having severe stomach cramps and throwing up on July 5th.
The 33-year old's doctor thought it was gallstones so she underwent numerous tests. But all of those tests came up negative.
Van Houten had been taking the diet pill OxyElite Pro and was actually suffering from liver damage.
She was in the emergency room every week in July and August before realizing, the pills were making her sick.
Van Houten is now suing the makers of OxyElite Pro, Dallas-based USPlabs.
Also suing the company, 22-year old Kenneth Waikiki of Kona. He was only taking the new formula of OxyElite for a month. Weeks later, he was in a coma. He got a transplant liver from the mainland and is now recovering at home.
Navy Electronics Technician Lance Taniguchi, a 24-year old from Pearl City, is back in Hawaii, after spending weeks in a Virginia hospital. He was on the East Coast for training when his liver failed. He was days away from also getting a transplant.
"I got lucky," says Taniguchi, who's skin and eyes are still a slight tint of yellow.
"Not many people have a second chance like that," he says. Taniguchi was well enough to come back home and complete some training at Pearl Harbor. But he is still not able to run or do any strenuous exercises.
Overall more than 40 people suffered various degrees of liver injury in Hawaii, and about a dozen more on the mainland. But the FDA and Hawaii Department of Health still don't know why.
OxyElite Pro has been recalled.
$250,000 worth of the product is being held by the state. It was all supposed to be burned Tuesday but the Attorney General's office is reviewing that process after a lawyer raised concerns that some of the bottles could be considered evidence in the pending lawsuits.