Twenty Two year old Bernard McCalip was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor in Calumet City IL, after being sick for hours. Bernard told his mother he could not feel his heart because he had taken a Pong seed. His mother Natosha Anderson didn’t know what it was as well as police and medical staff. The poison is hard to detect in a person’s body. Dr. Trevonne Thompson, ER physician/medical toxicologist, University of Illinois Health said “It’s entirely possible that there are cases of people who have passed away from this and we are not aware of it.”
This is a warning for all parents from a mother who lost her son after a $5 online purchase. “I’m pretty sure he thought it was going to be easy, but it wasn’t. He died in pain. It was slow, and it was painful,” said his mother Natosha Anderson. Bernard McCalip received a mysterious looking box in the mail that contained a seed called Pong Pong where “Cerbera odolla” or “the suicide tree” grows. This seed is an infamous killer in southeast Asia and India. The poison inside the seed shuts down a person’s heart and causes it to stop.
According to Dr. Roderic Tung, heart rhythm specialist, University of Chicago Medicine “Cerberin appears to be one of the most lethal agents in this class of medications or natural plants.” “I can go online and purchase something for $5 – $5 and that can literally devastate a family and kill someone. I don’t understand,” Anderson said. Bernard was transgender and struggling with the desire to live life as a woman, recently changing his name to Lucia. His mother wasn’t aware of any depression or suicidal thoughts, but mentioned her son was bullied in school for several years.
Sharing information about this poison can better prepare parents to talk to their children and be more cautious. There are several resources available online about Pong seed. Despite the lethal threat this seed is not prohibited in the U.S. nor through certain online vendors such as ebay.