A 12-year-old girl from Belfast became seriously ill and had to spend several days in an induced coma due to her heavy vaping habits.
Sarah Griffin, who has had asthma since she was young, was rushed to the hospital a month ago after suffering from breathing problems. Her mother told media outlets that she was scared she was going to lose her.
Since then, the UK government has announced that they will be restricting the sale and marketing of vapes targeted at minors. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also said that they plan on making vapes less appealing to children.
In Belfast, Sarah Griffin’s bedroom is like that of most young children. She has a dressing table that’s covered with perfume bottles, makeup, and hair straighteners. She also has many plush toys on her bed.
It’s also the same room where she hid her vapes from her mom – going as far as hiding them in the carpet. She was just nine years old when she started to vape.
Her mom Mary tried to intervene. She would search her when she came home from school and would even confiscate her smartphone. Despite her best efforts, however, nothing worked.
By the summer, Sarah was taking in thousands of puffs worth of vape in just a few days. She would take a puff after waking up in the morning and again at night. She even slept with it beside her pillow.
While it’s illegal to sell vapes to minors, Sarah was able to buy them over the counter. After a few puffs, she quickly became addicted to the nicotine content.
Due to the fact that she has asthma, she’s at a higher risk of vape-related complications. To make matters worse, she was never that great at using her asthma-preventative medication.
Last month, she developed a cold, and when she continued to vape, it culminated in what her doctors describe as a “perfect storm”. After becoming unwell, she was taken to the hospital, where doctors took x-rays of her lungs. They immediately noticed that only one-half of the organ was working properly. The medication that they were giving her was also not working.
By the evening, she was transferred to intensive care, and not long afterward, put into a medically induced coma with the hope that it would stabilize her condition.
Fortunately, things began to turn around after four days. Sarah is now recovering, though she has permanent damage to her lungs. According to her mother, she’s currently doing lung exercises – ones that are usually done by 80-year-olds.
Sarah says she hopes her experience will help prevent others in her age group from falling victim to the same dangers posed by vaping.
Dr. O’Donoghue, a respiratory pediatrician in Belfast, described youth vaping as a “healthcare emergency” that needs to be addressed immediately. According to recent surveys, one in every five children between the ages of 11 and 17 have tried vaping – three times higher than what it was in 2020.
According to Fidelma Carter, who works at Northern Ireland Chest, Heart, and Stroke, nearly 20 percent of young vapers are doing it regularly as they assume there are no dangers or risks involved.