An 18-year-old English high school student was forced to undergo emergency surgery to remove part of her stomach on Thursday night, after consuming a cocktail that contained liquid nitrogen.
Gaby Scanlon, a student from Heysham in Lancashire, England, was out celebrating her 18th birthday at a local bar on Thursday night, when the near fatal incident occurred. According to friends, Scanlon had ingested a Jagermeister drink with liquid nitrogen, a chemical that has become popular for giving cocktails a showy “steaming cauldron effect.” Soon after she reported feeling breathless and having severe stomach pain.
Scanlon was rushed to Lancaster Royal Infirmary at around 11p.m. where doctors diagnosed her with a perforated stomach. To save her life, surgeons immediately undertook to patch her stomach, which necessitated removing part of it.
According to the Guardian, the chemical’s use in cooking was pioneered by chefs like Heston Blumenthal who use it as a method of “flash-freezing” foods and drinks to give a dramatic presentation effect.
“Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently,” said the Lancashire Constabulary in a statement.
Lancashire officials added that an investigation was underway to determine if foul play was involved. “The investigation is still in its early stages and we are still interviewing witnesses to establish the full facts,” said officials. “The premises involved have fully co-operated with all agencies and have suspended drinks involving liquid nitrogen."
Oscar’s Wine Bar & Bistro, the bar that served Scanlon, issued profuse apologies to Scanlon and has since stopped serving the drink. The bar said they offered "heartfelt best wishes" to the Scanlon family “at this distressing time,” reported the BBC.
John Ashton, Joint Director of Public Health for the National Health Service in England, criticized the alcohol industry for permitting unregulated methods to attract customers.
“This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that's now competing on gimmicks,” said Ashton. "Alcohol itself is a very dangerous thing if improperly handled and liquid nitrogen is a toxic chemical. It destroys human tissue."
Scanlon’s condition, still labeled as serious, has stabilized. The teenager even took to Twitter Sunday night to issue a word of warning to those belittling her condition. "’Maybe stay off the liquid nitrogen' is not a f–––––– funny thing to say to me,” tweeted Scanlon, who has since removed the post from the social media website. "I nearly died."