Paul Karason, who was known for having skin that was blue, passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 62. He became famous when coming forward to discuss his unique condition, the result of taking medication no longer approved for treatment.
Karason reportedly began turning blue 15 years ago after using a silver-based remedy to treat a skin condition and drinking colloidal silver. He was left a dark shade of the hue and led a reclusive life until deciding to appear on the Today show with Matt Lauer in 2008.
Estranged wife Jo Anna Karason told NBC that many who knew her husband called him "Papa Smurf," which didn't bother him if it came from a child. "But if it was an adult, well… that was a nickname he didn't appreciate, depending on who said it."
In 2012, Karason told Inside Edition that he had fallen on hard times after going public and had lost his home. In addition to battling heart problems, which eventually took his life, Karason battled prostate cancer and had serious trouble finding a job.
"People are reluctant to hire blue people, or people that are noticeably different," he explained.
Karason then moved into the Lighthouse Mission Shelter in Washington, where he reunited with Joanne Elkins, a friend from junior high. They lived together for a while, and she may be the estranged wife mentioned earlier.
"He has been too ill to work for a while," Jo Anna told NBC. "He didn't like to go out in public much – only when he thought he needed to, like to go to the bank or to pick up tobacco."
Karason had long-suffered from heart problems and underwent a triple bypass about five years ago. He suffered a severe stroke and pneumonia just before the heart attack that killed him.
The FDA has since banned the use of silver because it causes argyria, which caused Karason's blue color. Silver also collects in the skin and will not dissolve. Instead, doctors today recommend penicillin or other forms of treatment.
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