NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A pit stop in Bellevue took a terrifying turn for a Kentucky family Sunday night.
Renee Parsons said she picked up a dollar bill off the ground at the McDonald’s on Highway 70 and soon passed out.
“She looked like she was dying. She certainly was unconscious and very pale,” her husband Justin told News 2.
It was only a matter of minutes after picking up the dollar bill that Renee Parsons felt as though she couldn’t breathe and her body began to feel numb.
“I couldn’t even breathe. It’s almost like a burning sensation, if you will, that starts here at your shoulders, and then it just goes down because it’s almost like it’s numbing your entire body,” Parsons explained.
Justin Parsons said his wife’s speech began to slur before she went unconscious, while he drove to the closest hospital. “I grabbed my husband’s arm with the same hand that I had the money in and said, Justin please help me, it won’t stop it’s getting worse.”
Soon after her husband felt side effects as well. “My lips started going numb and my arm broke out in a rash,” Justin Parsons said.
His symptoms lasted for about an hour while Renee’s lasted for about four before she was released on an accidental overdose.
The family says the toxicology report doesn’t test for synthetic drugs, but they feel confident fentanyl or a similar drug was on the money.
“I just want people to know because it could have been a child,” said Renee.
A day later she is counting her blessings, with plans to get Narcan training as soon as possible.
The family says the responding Metro police officer told them the dollar bill had likely been used to cut or store drugs.
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Metro Nashville Police told News 2 they didn’t see any grains present on the dollar bill and took it to the property room to be destroyed.
In June, Perry County Sheriff Nick Weems put out a warning to the community on social media, that has since gained national attention, about the money with fentanyl found at multiple gas stations.
While speaking with News 2, the sheriff asked the community to educate their children—if you see money on the ground to leave it. “I wouldn’t want my child picking up something like that and then opening it and — inhale it.”
Dr. David Edwards at Vanderbilt echoed the sheriff’s concerns.
“If you are a child and you pick up a dollar bill that’s full of powder and you put your fingers in your mouth I would I say that would be a big risk,” said Dr. Edwards.
Simply touching a drug will not cause an overdose, Edwards said, but the risk is still concerning.
“You know ingesting something is a different story than touching something. Your skin is a really good barrier and will likely protect you and you won’t just randomly overdose from just any medicine you are touching for a short period of time,” Dr. Edwards explained.
On Tuesday, medical professionals spoke out about the reports of drug-laced money. “The risks of exposure through the skin are incredibly, incredibly small,” Dr. Caleb Alexander professor in epidemiology in medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health told News 2.
Dr. Alexander added, “The risk is quite low, but theoretically, yeah, someone could touch it with their skin, and then if they touch their eyes or their mouth or their nose then theoretically, they could have an exposure that way.”