Warning: Some readers may find the content of this article upsetting and/or distressing
Cassondra Reynolds, 49, sadly lost her husband John nine years ago after he suffered from a cardiac arrest at their home.
John, dad to three boys, worked night shifts and would often have a high-caffeine energy drink on his way to work, to keep him awake throughout the night. But one morning, Cassondra woke to find her husband gasping for air. She quickly called 911 and performed CPR.
John was transported to hospital where he was put onto a life support machine and into a medically-induced coma. But tragically, just two weeks later, John was pronounced brain dead and Cassondra was left with the heart wrenching decision to turn his life support off.
Nearly a decade on from John's death and Cassondra, from California, is fighting to impose laws restricting the consumption of energy drinks.
"I just couldn't believe that it was happening. I was in a state of panic and shock because I had no idea what was happening to my husband," the mum recalled.
"I saw him turn from blue to grey and I was just praying that nothing would happen to him. John was healthy, he worked out every day, he had had a full physical examination the month prior and all his results came back fine.
"When he went to the hospital, the doctor told me that his sugar levels were sky high and were asking me all sorts of questions about his lifestyle, whether he took drugs and if he had any health issues.
"He was put in a medically induced coma and a therapeutic state of hypothermia to try and prevent any further damage to his brain caused by a lack of oxygen.
"Eventually, the doctor asked me if he drank energy drinks which I replied yes, but only once a day. He immediately explained that it only takes one energy drink to throw off the rhythm of your heart causing a heart arrhythmia."
Cassondra and John's sons were aged five, six and eight at the time their father passed away.
"When he was pronounced brain dead, I let my children come and visit him to say their goodbyes. I asked the nurse to remove as many wires as possible so that they wouldn't be scared," Cassondra continued.
"He was a really good dad and the best husband, watching him take his last breath was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I felt like my heart was physically breaking.
"He was the love of my life and my soul mate. You can't move on when your heart belongs to someone else.
"I told [the boys] three days prior he was going to be going to heaven and not able to come back home to us.
"They knew they were going to say goodbye but they were too young to really process and understand it all.
"Telling them that their Dad had passed away was the second hardest thing I've ever had to do, the first being turning off his life support.
"I sat there squeezing his hand and kissing him for 31 minutes as I watched all signs of life slowly leave this beautiful man's body. This man who was my everything."
Cassondra has now launched the Awareness Project which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of energy drinks and pre-workout supplements.
"If you suspect that your loved one has had an adverse reaction to these drinks, report it to your governing food agency. These drinks are not tested enough and there is no age limit in the US for who can buy these drinks," she explained.
"It's important people understand the dangers do not lay solely with the high caffeine and sugar content. It's the synergistic effect when these substances are COMBINED with the additional stimulants contained in energy drinks that appears to be causing so many cardiac issues.
"I have heard so many horror stories from parents whose children have died as a result of these drinks yet less than one per cent of energy drink related adverse effect and deaths are reported.
"The doctor told me that drinking energy drinks is like playing Russian roulette with your life and that really stuck with me.
"He was my only family, he was my everything and he was my soul mate and now he's gone".
The group that Cassondra started, 'Energy Drink and Pre-Workout Awareness', currently has 11,000 members on Facebook.
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