Teen speaks on ordeal after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail

LONDON - She was celebrating her 18th birthday - but it turned into a nightmare.

Miss Gaby Scanlon, who almost died drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen, has opened up for the first time about that horrific evening early this month.

Two drinks at a remarkably tame birthday celebration completely destroyed her stomach, leaving the 18-year-old student to face a lifetime of health problems.

Liquid nitrogen creates a dry-ice effect as it evaporates at room temperature. It is harmless as a gas, but the much colder liquid form freezes objects on contact in seconds.

She told the Daily Mail: "It was all very theatrical and exciting as alcohol hit the liquid nitrogen and steam rose off the glass. One of my friends asked the barman how it was done and he explained.

"It seemed like fun, so we said: 'Okay, we'll have one."

Since it was her 18th birthday, the barman offered another one on the house.

The minute the second hit her stomach, she felt excruciating pain.

She said: "I'd been warned by the barman the drink might make me a bit gassy, so I didn't think too much of it, but then my stomach started to expand and I felt sick. Soon I was doubled up with pain.

"Everyone went into a panic. I couldn't talk, I could barely walk and everything was just a blur of pain. I was so frightened. I knew the drink must have caused it."

She was rushed to a hospital, where a scan showed a huge perforation in her stomach.

It was only during the four-hour operation that the surgeons realised the devastating extent of the damage.

The liquid nitrogen had not only burned a hole in her stomach - its effects are similar to frostbite - the chemical had also completely destroyed the stomach lining.

Her whole stomach had to be removed, so surgeons connected Miss Scanlon's oesophagus, the tube which takes food from the mouth to the stomach, directly to her small bowel.

She's been told her small intestine will, with time, adapt and create a pouch to digest her food.

But with no stomach, she will not feel any hunger. She also faces a lifetime of vitamin injections, liquid replacement meals to keep her calories up and the constant fear of pain when eating.

She recalled: "The liquid nitrogen didn't add anything to the taste. It was just a gimmick. I probably would never have drunk that shot if it hadn't looked exciting.

"I feel angry that these theatrical cocktails seem to be aimed at younger people, especially 18-year-olds who are just legally able to drink and want to go out and try these things, but it's not worth it."

Miss Scanlon said doctors explained it all to her after the operation. It came as such a shock that she didn't really understand what it all meant.

Now, a couple of weeks after the surgery, she looks pale, weak and exhausted. She has lost weight.

Before her birthday, she loved food. Now she has to force herself to eat only tiny, bland meals.

Police have investigated the incident and visited every licensed bar in Lancaster to warn of what had happened.

It is believed they have all voluntarily stopped using liquid nitrogen, the report said.

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