Woman’s stomach removed after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail
A YOUNG woman needed a life-saving operation to remove her stomach after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen.
The 18-year-old, named in reports as Gabby Scanlon from Heysham, began feeling breathless after consuming the drink during a night out with friends in Lancaster on Thursday.
She developed severe stomach pain and was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary at about 11pm. Medics diagnosed the girl with a perforated stomach and were forced to perform emergency surgery to remove the organ, Lancashire Police said.
Officers have launched an investigation into the incident.
A number of witnesses at the bar where the drink was bought have been interviewed by police and the night spot has stopped selling drinks containing the chemical.
Lancashire Police said last night the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the incident was being carried out in conjunction with Lancaster City Council.
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently. The investigation is in its early stages and we are still interviewing witnesses to establish the full facts.”
She said that the bar involved had fully co-operated with the investigation.
“This is a tragic and life-changing incident for an 18-year-old girl who was celebrating her birthday,” she said.
“The use of liquid nitrogen in bars is not illegal. However, we are continuing to look into the matter and will be working closely with our partners from other agencies.”
The girl involved remained in a stable condition and was conscious, the spokeswoman added.
Paul Aitchison, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Act committee, said he had been at the same bar a few months ago and had tried the Nitro Jagermeister drink.
Mr Aitchison, who at 20 is one of the country’s youngest councillors, said: “I heard about this story this morning and I was quite shocked, because I have tried it myself. It was quite scary to think that it could have possibly happened to me.
“I thought it sounded interesting, that’s probably one of the draws. You assume the drinks served in licensed premises will be safe.
“I didn’t have an adverse reaction to it. Unfortunately Gaby has and my heart goes out to her and I hope that she gets better.”
The committee would be discussing the issue, he said.
“I am sure they are allowed to sell the drink. I am pretty sure that there will now be a national debate on the safety of liquid nitrogen.”
Liquid nitrogen evaporates rapidly at room temperature, creating a cauldron effect as water condenses around the glass.
It is still not clear how exactly Ms Scanlon managed to ingest the chemical, but if swallowed, liquid nitrogen can cause cold burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, killing the tissue.
As the frozen vapour hits the stomach, it rapidly warms, releasing large volumes of air which can burst the stomach.
Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove Ms Scanlon’s stomach, an operation known as a total gastrectomy. During the operation the stomach is cut out and the tubes to and from the stomach, the oesophagus and the small bowel, are connected.
People who have had a gastrectomy are still able to lead a normal life, but they have to eat smaller amounts and to take vitamin supplements to make sure they get enough nourishment.
Dr John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria, said: “This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that’s now competing on gimmicks.
“Alcohol itself is a very dangerous thing if improperly handled, and liquid nitrogen is a toxic chemical.”
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