A 12-year-old who spent four days in a coma after heavy vaping has spoken out about the ordeal.
Sarah Griffin started vaping from the age of nine and would cut holes in the carpet to hide vape pens from her mum Mary.
The young girl was hooked and got through around 4,000-puffs every few days (a regulation vape contains 600 puffs).
As part of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s (NICHS) vaping awareness campaign, Mary has opened up on Sarah's condition and wants to raise awareness of the danger it poses to children.
A month ago, her daughter, who already suffers from asthma, told her mum that she was feeling unwell while getting ready for bed.
Although the mum-of-two put it down to a change in weather, Sarah later called to come and pick her up as she felt unwell.
After initially settling, her father took her to Royal Victoria Hospital where her condition was 'deteriorating very quickly'.
"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," the mum explained.
"There were medical staff all around her assessing her and they said she needed to go to ICU as she was deteriorating very quickly."
An x-ray of Sarah's lungs showed that one of them was 'badly injured' and the other lung was 'working overtime and aggravating her asthma'.
Along with having a collapsed lung, Sarah also had an infection which was making everything worse.
After four hours, she went from intensive care, straight into an induced coma.
Thankfully, four days later, Sarah was brought round and is now recovering.
She has now warned others to avoid vaping completely.
"Don't start doing it, because once you start doing it, you don't stop doing it," she said.
"You only stop when you basically have to, when it's a life or death situation."
Fidelma Carter, Head of Public Health at NICHS, said: “Many people may think there is little risk associated with regular vaping. 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. We have launched our vaping awareness campaign in response to the misunderstandings around the potential health risks associated with vaping and the huge increase in the number of teenagers using vapes.”
This comes after the UK government announced plans to raise the smoking age by a year for every year, meaning that a 14-year-old today will ‘never legally be sold a cigarette’.Featured Image Credit: Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke