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The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to drink Real Water brand alkaline water after multiple people who consumed the product developed liver failure.
The FDA was alerted to problems with the water bottle brand on March 13 after learning that five children in Nevada, where the company is based, went into acute liver failure in November, requiring hospitalization. Three more children and two adults experienced less severe symptoms, including vomiting, fever, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue.
"The consumption of 'Real Water' brand alkaline water is the only common link identified among all of these cases to date," the agency said.
After the FDA announced that it was investigating Real Water's products, which were marketed as "the healthiest drinking water available," the company's president, Brent Jones, asked retailers to pull the water from their shelves and put it "in the back rooms or return it to the distributers." He also said that "any customer who has purchased Real Water from a retailer is asked to return the product."
Real Water's Las Vegas-based parent company, Affinity Lifestyles.com Inc., is also facing multiple lawsuits, in California and Nevada, from people who allege that the water led to severe illnesses. A joint lawsuit filed in Nevada also named Whole Foods, Costco and Terrible Herbst, which have all sold the product, as defendants.
One of the plaintiffs, Myles Hunwardsen, required a liver transplant after drinking Real Water, the lawsuit alleges. He developed sudden acute liver failure in September and went to a Henderson, Nevada, hospital before being airlifted to UCLA for a liver transplant, according to a GoFundMe set up by his family.
GoFundMe Myles Hunwardsen
Another plaintiff, Miriam Brody, was also treated for liver failure at Henderson Hospital after drinking Real Water, and three more plaintiffs claim they paid at least $300,000 in medical bills after being treated at hospitals in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In one of the other lawsuits filed against the company, Las Vegas couple Emely and Christopher Brian Wren allege that they and their 2-year-old son Christopher developed health problems after drinking the water. The third lawsuit was filed by a man who went into acute liver failure and was informed that he needed a liver transplant, but was able to recover without one.
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On Tuesday, Jones apologized to consumers and said that they are complying with the FDA's investigation into their products.
"First, we'd like to express our deepest sympathy and concern over the events that led to the inquiry," he said in a video posted to the Real Water website. "We started Real Water over 13 years ago with the intention to provide a healthy product that benefits and elevates people's lifestyles. We are deeply saddened to learn that anything otherwise could be the result."
PEOPLE has contacted Real Water for further comment.
While the FDA investigates Real Water, they have warned consumers, restaurants and retailers not to "drink, cook with, sell, or serve 'Real Water' alkaline water until more information is known about the cause of the illnesses."