A Winnipeg mother says her 23-year-old daughter died from drinking too much water after she used the illicit drug MDMA.
Last February, doctors told Linda Kyrzyk a combination of thirst-inducing MDMA and drinking too much water caused her daughter Leanne Germain's brain to swell, killing her.
"I just remember yelling, how do you die from drinking water?" said Kyrzyk. "It's just something you can't believe."
Kyrzyk said her daughter was at a small house party on a Saturday night and was found unconscious the next morning.
By piecing things together with information from Leanne's friends, Kyrzyk said she learned her daughter took, at most, one pill of MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, and then didn't feel well. She said people checked on Leanne until everyone went to bed.
The next morning she wasn't breathing and her friends called 911.
"I got a call from Concordia Hospital saying my daughter was in a coma and if I had a driver to take me there," she said.
Leanne was in the coma for two days before doctors told the family she was brain dead.
"I lost my soulmate. I lost my best friend," said Laura Germain, Leanne's twin. "My son lost his auntie, and everyone lost a person who was just so beautiful and so kind."
The family said Leanne was generally responsible when it came to partying. Her mother said she always called for rides or took cabs. She said there was no alcohol or other drugs in her system when she died.
She said she knew her daughter experimented with MDMA and talked to her about drug use. Kyrzyk said her daughter told her MDMA "doesn't do anything" and "is just a party drug."
Dangerous short-term effects of MDMA can include: dehydration, increased thirst, higher body temperature and sweating. Health officials recommend taking a person under the influence of the drug to the hospital when they complain of extreme thirst or overheating.
A kidney specialist from the University of Manitoba said this type of death is a rare occurrence.
Dr. Claudio Rigatto, an associate professor of medicine, said it can occur when there is an imbalance of salt and water in the body.
"When the water amount is too much, another way of saying that is the concentration of salt is too low. What happens is the water starts entering into cells," he said.
It's especially concerning if the brain swells, he said.
"What happens is it has very little room to swell before it starts increasing the pressure inside the brain, and when this happens, it decreases blood flow," said Rigatto.
At first, a patient will be confused, he said. Then the swelling can lead to seizures and in extreme cases, brain death.
The family didn't know about water intoxication with MDMA or ecstasy use.
"Just be careful, think about your friends and family," said Laura Germain. "I will never be the same."
Kyrzyk said she now shares Leanne's story and warns everyone she can.
"Anybody I have said it to, all the answers they get back from their adult children or teenagers is water can't kill you," she said.
"First if they would just say no, then you wouldn't have to worry about it. If not, then everyone should be watching out for one another. Everyone should know to watch to make sure their friends, to make sure they're not drinking glass after glass, 'cause you don't know when one too many glasses is."
Germain said to cope with her loss, she's also sharing her sister's story and she's following her sister's advice.
"One thing Leanne always said was you can make more money, you can't make more time," said her twin. "For me, I have the time do things and make differences and try things, and that's what I am going to do for her."