A teenager has had an emergency operation to remove her stomach after drinking a cocktail laced with liquid nitrogen while celebrating her 18th birthday in a wine bar.
Gaby Scanlon, from Heysham, Lancashire, was with friends at Oscar's wine bar in Lancaster city centre when she began to feel ill, becoming breathless and developing severe stomach pain.
She was taken to hospital at 11pm on Thursday, where she was diagnosed with a perforated stomach. Surgeons operated immediately to save her life. Lancashire police said: "Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently." She is now in a serious but stable condition in the Lancaster Royal Infirmary.
An investigation is taking place into the circumstances of how she was given the drink. Once added to alcohol, liquid nitrogen makes the drink appear surrounded by a cloud of white or grey vapour.
Doctors at Lancaster Royal Infirmary said their only option was to operate immediately and remove her stomach.
In a statement, Oscar's wine bar said it was "tremendously concerned" about Gaby and sent its best wishes to her family.
Last month, the bar posted a photograph on its Facebook page of a cocktail which contained liquid nitrogen. It was sold for £8.95, containing champagne.
Police said the bar had ceased selling all liquid nitrogen cocktails following the incident and had co-operated with all the agencies. The investigation is in its early stages and officers are still interviewing witnesses to establish the facts.
Liquid nitrogen, which boils at -196°C, has become common as a method for flash freezing food or drinks and creating a dramatic vapour cloud. It is stored and transported in vacuum flasks. It can cause severe internal damage if it is ingested.
Helen Carter for The Guardian
8th October 2012
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