A 12-year-old girl who suffered a collapsed lung and was put into coma for four days has urged children never to start vaping.
Sarah Griffin, who was a heavy vaper, was rushed to the hospital a month ago when she started experiencing breathing problems.
She had been vaping since the age of nine and was getting through a 4,000-puff vape in a few days. A normal vape usually contains 600 puffs.
A head cold combined with Griffin’s pre-existing asthma caused her to deteriorate quickly. An x-ray of her lungs showed that one had been damaged.
Her mother, Mary, said that when Sarah was placed in an induced coma to aid her recovery, she thought her daughter was going to die.
“It has been a traumatising experience for Sarah,” she said. “It has traumatised me, and it didn’t happen to me. The day she went to hospital, Sarah thought she would be admitted, be put on a nebuliser for a while and then go home again. For her to end up in ICU was a terrifying experience and she’s still trying to make sense of it all.”
She added: “Sarah hadn’t been vaping heavily but that, coupled with her asthma was such a dangerous combination. Young people are attracted to the bright colours and flavours of vapes. They might smell and taste sweet, but people need to know about the potential dangers associated with them.”
In her daughter’s case, Mary said, vaping made her more vulnerable to infection.
“The doctors explained that if Sarah hadn’t been vaping, she would have been in a better position to fight off the infection,” she said. “Vaping had left her lungs very weak.”
Sarah is now recovering at home but the effects of vaping may be long-term. “Sarah has been left very lethargic,” her mother explained. “She is usually full of energy, constantly talking and on the go but she is still recovering and isn’t back to her usual self yet. The mental impact has been as big as the physical impact. She has been through such a trauma. She still has a long road ahead of her, but we are just so grateful to have her back home with us.”
The health secretary has announced plans to restrict the sale of vapes and to introduce plain packaging.
Steve Barclay said it was “not right” that vape companies used cartoon characters and “bubblegum” flavours to sell their products.
The government is proposing to restrict vape flavours and increase their price. It could also bar companies from describing using terms such as “candy floss” and “muffin”. Other proposals include prohibiting the use of cartoons and “child-friendly” images on packaging and on the device.