Rick Warren Recovering From Temporary Blindness Because of Firestick Plant Sap

Thursday, 22 Jul 2010 03:52 PM

By David A. Patten

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Popular Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren sustained a serious eye injury and temporary blindness from a poisonous sap from a shrub he was pruning but is expected to make a full recovery, sources tell Newsmax.

Warren's thousands of followers, accustomed to receiving scriptural quotations from him, were shocked Thursday morning when he sent the following message via Twitter: “My eyes were severely burned by a toxic poison. Hospitalized Mon[day]. Excruciating pain. Now home. Pray my sight loss is restored."

Warren's eyes were damaged while he was working in his yard pruning shrubs, says Kristin Cole, a representative of the A. Larry Ross firm that handles media relations for Warren.

Warren often remarks that people who work with their minds should relax with their hands. That's what he was doing Monday, working in his yard at his Mission Viejo, Calif., home.

Warren has two firestick plants, also known as pencil cactus plants, in his yard. The shrub's pencil-thick branches are lovely but dangerous.

Warren was pruning trees in his yard, and was wearing gloves, Cole says.

"When he took the gloves off, that somehow transferred to his hands, and then he wiped his eyes," Cole tells Newsmax.

The firestick plant, or euphorbia tirucalli, oozes a milky sap when damaged or cut, according to the Floridata horticultural Web site. The site warns "in the eyes the sap can cause temporary blindness which may last for several days."

Warren's eyes hurt so badly that his wife, Kay, called 911, Cole says. Warren was rushed to Mission Hospital, where he was treated overnight and released.

Doctors say Warren will make a complete recovery, although he is wearing protective contacts temporarily until he recovers.

"He's doing well," Cole tells Newsmax. "I know his tweet this morning is what got everybody talking. He did have some temporary vision loss . . . it's in the process of healing."

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