Chuck Norris: ‘It almost scared me to death’- Action star on wives ‘horrible’ health scare

In 2017, Hollywood actor Chuck and his wife Gena publicly sued 11 health-care companies after they claimed Gena was poisoned by a chemical injected into her multiple times during magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI). At the time, Gena said that within a “few hours” of receiving the injection, it felt like her whole body was on fire, and soon she was experiencing severe side effects, leaving her with “horrible brain damage”.

MRI scans usually help doctors to diagnose disease by taking pictures inside the body. Sometimes individuals are injected with a drug, in this case, gadolinium, which is used to improve the clarity of the images.

However, the couple claimed that Gena developed what is known as “gadolinium deposition disease” after being injected.

“I couldn’t think any more, any type of cognition, being able to articulate, my memory, I had muscle wasting,” Gena said when talking to CBS at the time.

CBS continued to explain that the couple said that the gadolinium deposition disease caused other symptoms such as burning pain, violent shaking, confusion and kidney damage.

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“It almost scared me to death,” Chuck admitted. “Nothing’s going on here, she’s dying, she’s dying right in front of me here at this hospital.”

After the ordeal, they sought more than $10 million in damages from the manufacturers of the drug, whom they say should have warned them about the risks.

Speaking to Good Health, Chuck confessed that he had given up his career, in order to focus on looking after his wife.

He said: “I’ve given up my film career to concentrate on Gena, my whole life right now is about keeping her alive. I believe this issue is so important.”


According to the Daily Mail, gadolinium contrast agents are thought to be used in a third of MRI scans worldwide.

Radiopaedia explains that allergic reactions to the substance are relatively rare, occurring in less than one percent of cases. When they do occur they can either be acute or chronic.

CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus added: “What we know is that gadolinium, this dye that’s used, can actually deposit in tissue, that’s known now. What we don’t know is that it is actually associated with symptoms in patients.

“These are critical tests. I don’t want to worry initially, without real substantive data, to actually stress people out.”

Despite their fight, in 2020, Radiology Business reported that the lawsuit against gadolinium maker Bracco Imaging had been dropped by Norris’ legal team without any settlement.

“Bracco takes patient safety very seriously and stands behind the safety of all of its products,” the company said in a statement, pointing specifically to two of its gadolinium-based contrast agents.

Two of these – ProHance and MultiHance – are used in MRI of the central nervous system to better view lesions in the brain, spin and other tissues.

The NHS explains that MRI scans can be used to examine almost any part of the body, and the results of these tests can be used to plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.

During an MRI scan, you lie on a flat bed that’s moved into the scanner. Depending on the part of your body being scanned, you’ll be moved into the scanner either head first or feet first.

At certain times during the scan, the scanner will make loud tapping noises. This is the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off. The scan lasts 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the area being scanned and how many images are taken.

Interestingly, the NHS warns that contrast dye can cause side effects such as:

  • Feeling or being sick
  • A skin rash
  • A headache
  • Dizziness.

It goes on to explain that these typically do not last very long however, individuals with kidney disease are at risk of the dye causing tissue and organ damage. As a precaution, a blood test should be done beforehand to determine how well the kidneys are functioning and whether it is safe to proceed with the scan.

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