Bradenton, Florida -- A 15-year-old boy is home and recovering after going into a coma from fish poisoning he got after eating a snapper he caught in the Bahamas.
Austin Goncalves was healthy three weeks ago, but 48 hours after eating the fish he was in a coma.
On Monday, a thin and weak Austin was eating food for the first time in three weeks. And his life has changed.
"I'm on anti-seizure medication," Austin said.
On July 1, Austin, one of his friends, his mother and her boyfriend went to the Bahamas to dive and spear fish. Austin caught a massive mutton snapper. Karen Goncalves, his mother, cooked the catch and they all ate it. It almost killed them.
"I couldn't eat, couldn't breath," Austin said.
"This was very serious. It could have ended our lives," Karen Goncalves said.
Everyone was suffering from Ciguatera -- a potentially fatal illness from eating toxic fish, that eat poisonous plankton and carry it in their flesh. Most people have never heard of it, Austin and his family included, but when the symptoms started his mother knew something was very wrong and called an ambulance.
"The kids were not responding. They threw up all night and the next day and were pretty much unresponsive," she said.
All of them were taken to a small, unsophisticated clinic. Karen Goncalves knew if she didn't get everyone back to the United States, they could die. Through Facebook, she begged for help getting them out of the Bahamas. Friends rallied and all were taken via medivac to Miami.
Karen Goncalves says without help, they would be dead.
"And I wanted to thank all of our friends and family who came together to make this possible for us to come home," she said.
And from Austin, a warning to others: "Watch out. It's out there."
The family is facing some large medical bills from their treatment in Miami, and it cost $10,000 each to be flown out of the Bahamas.
To help the Goncalves, the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub on Longboat Key is removing all of its iconic dollar bills that have decorated its walls on Tuesday, and will donate the dollars to the family. The restaurant also is having a Facebook contest so people can guess how many dollars were on the walls.
There are a couple ways for people to donate:
-- From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 2, there will be a benefit or the family at the Blue Marlin Grill, 121 Bridge St. in Bradenton.
-- People can also donate to the medical bills online at this fundraising website.
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