Big Island man had liver transplant after taking diet pills

Big Island man had liver transplant after taking diet pills
Published: Nov. 19, 2013 at 8:15 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 at 4:36 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Kenneth Waikiki
Kenneth Waikiki

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kenneth Waikiki was a typical 22-year old.  He had beers with friends on Fridays and worked out regularly.   He also wanted to lose a few pounds.

The Kailua-Kona man started taking OxyElite Pro in the summer, a month later, he was sick.

"At first, we thought it was food poisoning," says Waikiki.

Then his eyes and skin turned yellow.

Waikiki was flown to Honolulu but he got worse and soon, was in a coma.  His liver had failed.  He needed a transplant.

"He didn't wake up," says his mother, Judy, as she remembers the long nights at the hospital.  She didn't want to leave her son's side, worried that he might die.

"I was there when he first came (into the world) if he had to leave, I had to be there," she says.

The family knew, time was running out.

On September 30th, in the middle of the night, the call came.  A liver was on the way from California.

"11 at night, the nurse woke me up, said the liver is good," says Judy.

On October 1st, Waikiki had the transplant.

He is now back home in Kailua-Kona.  He has to take a cocktail of medications several times a day.  And he has endless doctor appointments, but he is alive.

"It's a miracle," says Judy.

"I won't be able to drink again," says Kenneth with a chuckle.  He jokes that his friends always have a designated driver now.

The family can't understand how a diet pill made Kenneth so sick, so quickly.  That's what experts are trying to figure out.  The FDA and state investigators still don't know what ingredient in OxyElite Pro attacks the liver of some users.

The supplement is no longer being sold after several cases of liver failure and dozens of cases of liver damage.

The Hawaii Department of Health is destroying $250,000 worth of the product Tuesday.  The bottles were seized from stores and is being burned at H-Power.

"I don't wish this on anyone," says Judy Waikiki, who is happy that it's no longer being sold.

They know how lucky they are that Kenneth getting stronger every day.

"I'm just thankful that I'm here," he says.

"It makes you realize that everyday is not just another day, it's a blessing," says Judy.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.