After eating tilapia that was contaminated, Laura Barajas, a mother from California, went through a horrific and life-changing experience that ended with the amputation of all four of her limbs. The 40-year-old had months of hospitalization before undergoing this life-saving procedure on Thursday. Her family and friends are now coming together to support her as they try to deal with the severe effects of this terrible sickness.

The terrifying tale started when Laura Barajas cooked tilapia at home after buying it from a San Jose neighborhood grocery. Not long after she finished the meal, she became really sick. As her friend Anna Messina has described it, Barajas’s health swiftly declined to the point where it almost killed her. Recounting the horrific event, Messina said that Barajas had to be put into a medically induced coma and put on a respirator.

“She was on the verge of death. “She was using a respirator,” stated Messina. “Her bottom lip, her foot, and her fingers were all black. Her kidneys were deteriorating, and she had severe sepsis.”

The potentially fatal bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which may be found in raw seafood and seawater, is to blame for this unfortunate turn of events. There are two main ways to become infected, according to UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode: either by eating tainted food or by exposing an open wound to water tainted with the bacteria.

This bacterium is quite dangerous, especially for people with compromised immune systems. For every year, the United States reports between 150 and 200 cases of Vibrio Vulnificus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Remarkably, one in five people who contract this bacterium pass away.

The family of Barajas is currently coping with the tremendous obstacles that lie ahead, as their loved one will need to undergo amputations in the future and learn how to live a drastically different life.

Anna Messina started a GoFundMe page in response to this sad event in order to assist Laura Barajas with her medical costs and to help her get used to her new condition. With nearly $24,000 raised, the campaign has shown the community’s generosity and readiness to help Barajas while she works toward her recovery.

This tragic tale serves as a sobering reminder of the potential hidden risks in the food we eat and the terrible effects those risks may have on people and their families. Although Laura Barajas’ road to recovery will surely be difficult, the overwhelming support from her community offers a ray of hope in the face of hardship.