Mother’s horror as asthmatic daughter, 12, is left in a COMA after vaping left her lungs ‘very weak’
- Sarah Griffin from North Belfast spent four and half hours in intensive care
- She was then put in an induced coma for three days despite not ‘vaping heavily’
A mother has told how she feared her 12-year-old daughter would die after vaping left her in a coma.
Sarah Griffin, who suffers from asthma, had an infection which left her struggling to breathe.
She was taken to A&E, where doctors whisked her straight into intensive care due to her oxygen levels being extremely low.
Medics then put Sarah, who has asthma, into an induced coma for three days as she battled the infection. She is now recovering at home.
Sarah Griffin was initially so agitated medics decided to delay bringing her out of her induced coma over fears they would have to induce her again. But after three days medical staff were finally able to take Sarah out of the coma and remove the ventilator
Sarah, from Belfast, suddenly began coughing one evening as she was getting ready for bed, but her parents dismissed it as her asthma. She tried to ease her symptoms throughout the night with her inhaler and nebuliser. But less than 24 hours later, she was left struggling to breathe before attending hospital where she was admitted straight to intensive care. Pictured, Sarah with her mother Mary
Her mother Mary, from Belfast, claims doctors told her that vaping had left her lungs ‘very weak’ — even though she hadn’t been ‘vaping heavily’.
Discussing her daughter’s terrifying ordeal, she said: ‘The doctors explained if Sarah had not have been vaping, she would have been in a better position to fight off the infection.
‘The doctors said if Sarah had have got to hospital any later the outcome would have been entirely different.
‘That is something I can’t even think about.’
Sarah suddenly began coughing one evening as she was getting ready for bed but her parents dismissed it as her asthma.
She tried to ease her symptoms throughout the night with her inhaler and nebuliser.
But less than 24 hours later, she was still struggling to breathe.
Ms Griffin told Belfast Live: ‘Her cough was no different from any other time.
‘That morning I was taking my other two children to school when Sarah rang and said, “Come back mummy, I don’t feel well, I’m afraid”.
Read more: Rishi Sunak unveils crackdown on ‘worrying’ child vaping epidemic and announces kids aged 14 and under will NEVER be able to buy cigarettes under new ban
After returning home to give Sarah her inhaler and nebuliser, she left for the shops briefly but received another call from her daughter who was breathless and ‘barely able to string a sentence together’, she said.
Sarah’s father rushed her to the Royal Victoria Hospital where medics discovered her oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low.
Doctors showed Ms Griffin an X-ray of Sarah’s lungs which showed one had been seriously injured.
‘Sarah also had an infection, so everything combined had a massive impact on her body, extremely quickly,’ she said.
‘There were tubes, wires, and machines everywhere — it was heartbreaking to see her like that. As her mum I just felt so helpless. It was a nightmare come true.
‘Sarah has an older brother and two younger siblings and trying to explain to them what was happening was awful.
‘They were asking if she was going to die, and I was saying, “Of course not”, but in my mind I was terrified that was a real possibility.’
She was initially so agitated medics decided to delay bringing her out of her induced coma over fears they would have to induce her again.
But after three days medical staff were finally able to take Sarah out of the coma and remove the ventilator.
Sarah’s father rushed her to the Royal Victoria Hospital where medics discovered her oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low. She spent four and a half hours in intensive care before being put into an induced coma
Doctors showed Ms Griffin an X-Ray of Sarah’s lungs which showed one had been seriously injured. The other lung was working overtime triggering her asthma worse, she claimed. Pictured, Mary with Sarah
Her family has shared their story as part of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s (NICHS) campaign to raise awareness of their concern about young vapers.
Fidelma Carter, head of public health at NICHS, said: ‘The biggest misunderstanding about vapes is that they are harmless compared to cigarettes.
‘This is not true, and this message needs to change to prevent more young people from taking up and getting addicted to vaping because they think they are risk free.
‘The long-term health implications are unknown – just as they once were with tobacco.’
It comes as Rishi Sunak last week announced a crackdown on vaping among kids.
He promised to look at banning kid-friendly flavours and packaging that encourage children to pick up the habit.
Colourful displays of the gadgets, sold for as little as £5, currently litter high streets across the UK.
Predatory manufacturers lure kids in with flavours such as bubblegum and cotton candy and some shops even sell the devices next to sweets.
NHS Digital data, based on the smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England survey for the year 2021, showed 30 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber have used a vape
Tests on e-cigarettes confiscated from youngsters found they contained dangerous levels of lead, nickel and chromium. Some were almost 10 times above safe limits. Exposure to lead can impair brain development, while the other two metals can trigger blood clotting
E-cigs allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapour — which is produced by heating a liquid, which typically contains propylene glycol, glycerine, flavourings, and other chemicals.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, they do not contain tobacco, nor do they produce tar or carbon — two of the most dangerous elements.
Although widely viewed as safer than smoking, the long-term effects of vaping still remain a mystery.
Doctors have expressed fear there could be a wave of lung disease, dental issues and even cancer in the coming decades in people who took up the habit at a young age.
Earlier this year leading paediatricians also already warned children were being hospitalised with vaping-induced breathing difficulties amid a ‘disturbing’ youth vaping epidemic.
NHS figures also show a rise in the number of children admitted to hospital due to vaping.
Forty children and young people were admitted to hospital in England last year due to ‘vaping-related disorders’, which could include lung damage or worsening asthma symptoms, up from 11 two years earlier, the NHS said.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month show around 4.5million Brits vape daily or occasionally — a rise of some 500,000 in just 12 months.
Everything you need to know about e-cigarettes
How much nicotine is in an e-cigarette?
There are many different brands of e-cigarettes, containing various different nicotine levels.
The legal amount of nicotine in an e-liquid capacity in the UK is 20mg/ml equating to between 600 and 800 puffs.
The Elf Bar 600, one of Britain’s most popular vapes, is advertised as coming in nicotine strengths of 0mg, 10mg and 20mg.
How many cigarettes are ‘in’ an e-cigarette?
The Elf Bar 600 contains the equivalent to 48 cigarettes, analysts say.
It delivers 600 puffs before it needs to be thrown away, meaning, in theory, every 12.5 puffs equate to one cigarette.
Experts say for many e-cigarettes, 100 puffs equate to ten normal cigarettes.
Elf Bars are a brand of e-cigarettes often sold in snazzy colours and with child-friendly names and flavours, like blue razz lemonade and green gummy bear
Is vaping better for your health than cigarettes?
Vaping products are considered to be better than cigarettes as users are exposed to fewer toxins and at lower levels, according to the NHS.
The health service adds that vaping instead of smoking cigarettes reduces your exposure to toxins that can cause cancer, lung disease and diseases of the heart and circulation, such as strokes and heart attacks.
Public Health England, which is now defunct, published an expert independent review in 2015 concluding that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.
However vaping is not risk-free, as while levels in tobacco-products are much higher, e-cigarettes still contain harmful toxins, according to a study by researchers from the Medical University of Silesia in Poland.
And Dr Onkar Mudhar, a London dentist who posts videos on TikTok, said Elf bars can cause gum inflammation, swelling and bleeding.
He said this is because nicotine dries out your mouth and reduces saliva, causing irritation from a build-up of bacteria and food that can’t get washed away.
Nearly 350 hospitalisations due to vaping were logged in England in 2022, which are thought to be mainly down to respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, lung inflammation and, in severe cases, respiratory failure.
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