Young woman who lost stomach after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail speaks of ordeal
A TEENAGER who had her stomach removed after she drank a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen has spoken for the first time about her ordeal.
Gaby Scanlon, from Lancashire in England, was celebrating her 18th birthday with friends at Oscar's wine bar and bistro in Lancaster earlier this month when she drank two shots of the liqueur Jagermeister, which was laced with liquid nitrogen.
The chemical, which is extremely cold and only exists at temperatures of between -210C and -196C starts to evaporate the moment it comes into contact with room temperature air, creating a dramatic dry-ice effect.
It was made popular by celebrity chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, and is completely harmless as a gas.
But if the nitrogen has not burned away fully, as a liquid it has the power to freeze objects in a matter of seconds. Touching the liquid can give you severe cryogenic, or cold, burns.
Miss Scanlon said she felt fine after her first drink but suffered "excruciating pain" the moment she drank the second, offered to her by the bar man because it was her birthday.
"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," she said in an in an interview with an English newspaper..
"Soon I was doubled up with pain. People were asking me if I was all right, but I couldn't say anything because my stomach hurt so much. Everyone went into a panic. I couldn't talk, I could barley walk and everything was just a blur of pain."
Miss Scanlon's friends drove her to Lancaster Royal Infirmary and a CAT scan found a large perforation in her stomach.
During a subsequent operation, surgeons found that the extremely low temperature of the liquid nitrogen had not only burned a hole in her stomach but had completely destroyed her stomach limning.
Her whole stomach had to be removed and surgeons connected her oesophagus, which takes food from the mouth to her stomach, directly to her bowel.
Miss Scanlon, a pupil at Ripley St Thomas Academy in Lancaster – where she is studying A-levels in maths, further maths and business in the hope of becoming an accountant, spent three weeks in hospital, the first five days in intensive care.
She is now back home with her mother, Lisa (38) and stepfather Ian (41) but has lost a stone in weight as she can now only eat very small meals. Doctors say her small intestine will, over time, adapt - creating a pouch to digest her food, but she faces a lifetime of pain.
Her family is considering making a civil claim against the bar for compensation.
"I never thought something that could be so dangerous would be served in a bar. No one warned me. I was just told to wait a couple of seconds for the vapours to evaporate.
"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."
She added: "I try to stay strong. I'm an optimistic person. It could have been very much worse and I'm very grateful to be alive, but it should never have happened in the first place."
Police have investigated and have visited licensed premises in Lancashire, warning about what had happened, and the town's MP, Conservative David Morris, has written to David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to urge them to ban the sale of beverages containing liquid nitrogen.
Mr Morris is also tabling an Early Day Motion, and hopes to raise the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time later this week.