Mom puts son's brain on display to show dangers of drug abuse



Posted on July 16, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

EVERETT, Wash. - Annie Roth's youngest boy Joey meant the world to her. When he died, she called it her family's own personal 9-11.

"We all loved him so much," she says.

In September 2008, Joey Roth had been sick with meningitis. Doctors later found a lesion on his brain that might explain the severe pain he was in.

"He kept complaining that his brain was on fire," says his mom.

Joey was in so much pain that he opened the family safe where prescriptions were kept and took a pain pill to soothe his head. He had no idea it would be a lethal combination when mixed with another drug he had been prescribed by his doctor.

Annie Roth got a call from her son's girlfriend.

"That's when your heart goes down to your feet and a coldness goes from your feet up to your brain," says Annie, choking back tears.

Joey was just 18, in good shape and had decided years earlier that he would one day donate his organs.

At least 11 of his organs are currently living in people from California to Florida. But his mother told doctors to hold on to one thing.

Annie Roth now puts her son's brain on display at anti-drug programs around Western Washington. It's grotesquely swollen from the drugs.

"It looks like overcooked macaroni," she says.

But Roth hopes it serves as a jarring reminder to people to think about what they're doing when they take prescriptions that aren't meant for them.

"My family is hoping and praying that our 9-11 will teach somebody something too," she says.

Annie Roth will be taking part in "Inside Out -- The Original Organ Show" at the Mill Creek Festival this weekend. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 17 and 18.  It's hosted by Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

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