A mum is raising awareness of the dangers of vaping after her 12-year-old daughter was placed in an induced coma after feeling unwell.
Belfast woman Mary Griffin has told her story as part of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s (NICHS) vaping awareness campaign, explaining that her daughter Sarah ended up in a coma in part because of vaping.
Mary explained that her daughter was feeling unwell while getting ready for bed and started coughing, but since she had asthma they put it down to a change in the weather.
However, the next morning when Mary was taking two of her children to school Sarah rang to ask her to come back home as she was feeling unwell.
Sarah 'seemed to settle' after being given her inhaler and nebuliser so Mary popped out to the shops, only to get another call from her 12-year-old saying: "I need a doctor or to go to hospital."
Her dad took her to the Royal Victoria Hospital where a nurse found she had 'very low' oxygen levels, and soon Mary got a terrifying call.
She said: "The next thing I knew, Sarah’s dad phoned me to say Sarah was in Resus.
"I went to the hospital, and Sarah was just in a blind panic, she was terrified. She was on oxygen and was linked up to all sorts of machines."
"There were medical staff all around her assessing her and they said she needed to go to ICU as she was deteriorating very quickly."
A doctor showed Sarah's parents an x-ray of their daughter's lungs which showed that one of them was 'badly injured'.
That meant that the other lung was 'working overtime and aggravating her asthma', while she also had an infection which was making everything worse.
Doctors spent four-and-a-half hours working on Sarah before they placed her in an induced coma, which her mum said left her feeling 'helpless' and 'terrified' that her daughter might die.
Sarah had to be put back into a coma after doctors tried to bring her out of one the first time and she became 'agitated'.
Mary explained that doctors told her vaping had been a major problem for Sarah and had she arrived in hospital any later things may have been much worse.
"The doctors explained that if Sarah hadn’t of been vaping, she would have been in a better position to fight off the infection," Mary said.
"Vaping had left her lungs very weak."
"The doctors said if Sarah had of got to hospital any later the outcome would have been entirely different. That is something I can’t even think about."
Sarah has since returned home but for the rest of her life she will be classed as a high-risk patient and her mum has said she 'isn't back to her usual self yet' as she is lethargic.
Mary said her daughter had suffered a 'mental impact' which had been 'as big as the physical impact'.
The mum said that vaping had been a 'dangerous combination' when combined with her daughter's asthma.
"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," she said.
"We want other young people to see the potential impact vaping can have as it will hopefully make them think twice about doing it."
"The photos of Sarah in ICU are hard to look at, but we think it’s important young people see these and get a better understanding of the possible dangers."
Sarah says that if sharing her story helps save another young person and their family going through the same thing then it’s worth doing.Featured Image Credit: Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke