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Teenager has stomach removed after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail

  1. Phenoxide
    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


  1. trdofbeingtrd
    This is a tragedy for the lady and I can sympathize but putting another ban on something because of this latest what looks like accident is just not helping anything. It should be common sense to not just ingest liquid nitrogen.

    There are certain alcohol drinks that you can light on fire, PUT OUT, and then drink. There have been people who have gotten burned because they don't put the fire out first before drinking, should we place a ban on fire?

    Just about anything in this world can be dangerous and almost anything can be fatal if you know how to either not care about using it right or if you are ignorant about how to use it. I would say instead of putting a ban on nitrogen, how about if we spread information on how to safely ingest drinks that use nitrogen. I really don't like the idea of giving up my fog swamp for Halloween because someone refuses to prepare a drink or execute the drink safely.
  2. source
    I've just seen this on the television news, I really feel for her and her family.

    Did the bar give the girl advice and health & safety instructions on how to drink it?? Or were they just assuming that she should have known? Like trd said, people are given drinks on fire but have the common sense not to drink it still alight.

    And yes, how far can the banning of substances go??? Argh it's so frustrating that people lack common sense and spoil it for the rest of us.
  3. Maxfrombx
    I'm not sure that it can be compared to fire. You're asking a good question about if she had been warned or not. I don't know if everyone realize that liquid nitrogen is so cold that it can burn you.

    It seems to me that it's a dangerous recipe to be served to anyone. I wouldn't dare to say that she was so stupid that she spoils it for everyone.

    I mean, are we even sure when all the nitrogen has been evaporated? Even if it is, how cold does the drink remains?
  4. Gradient
    I've been to two cocktail bars that use liquid nitrogen regularly, in front of customers - and it's always been harmless for one very specific reason: the liquid nitrogen is used only to instantly frost the glass, not poured into beverages. My bet would be that this bar does the same, but the tender either dipped the glass improperly - such that some liquid nitrogen was caught in the glass when the beverage was poured - or was simply unfamiliar with the procedure, and actually poured enough of it into the glass that it needed more time to evaporate off before the beverage was also poured in.

    While I certainly feel for the family and patient - I find it difficult to believe that someone would ingest enough liquid nitrogen to do irreparable damage to the stomach without causing excruciating pain the moment it hit her lips and on the way down. Nitrogen is not specifically toxic on its own; other than displacing oxygen, it's fairly harmless. So she must have either been intoxicated enough to not feel her upper G.I. freezing & unfreezing on the way down - or, she had enough nitrogen in her her stomach that the tissue actually suffered acute hypoxia, and perhaps even entered her lungs and was unable to clear the gas sufficiently to enable oxygen back in, which might explain her breathlessness.

    Regardless, that bar should expect to be going out of business in a matter of hours.
  5. runningaway
    This is really sad, personally if I was given this drink I would assume that if there were any dangers I would be told about it. However I would have thought they couldn't serve it if it had any kind of detrimental effect, even if they gave warnings. The margin for error is still too small, you can't put that kind of stuff in someone elses hands, especially people who have been consuming alcohol. In my opinion stuff like that needs to be made safe before being handed over to anyone, you shouldnt even hand it over even if you say..wait 5 mins it's too risky. This does make me think that generally this drink should have been safe for consumption especially with all our health and safety laws!! Very unfortunate indeed.
  6. Potter
    Severe incompetence on behalf of the bar tender. There is nothing wrong with working with potentially dangerous food preparation, as long as it is done in a safe and sane manner. Chefs shouldn't be restricted from exploring new areas and substances as long as they don't screw around and serve them recklessly.

    In another part of the web someone mentioned they know a bartender who uses liquid nitrogen to make instant slushys, but then holds the drinks back till it all evaporates off for a minute or two so they are safe to serve.

    Can't get a good Brandy Alexander anymore.
  7. enquirewithin
    This is a tragic story. The parallels with RCS or illegal drugs are not really relevant here, because this is evidently legal. No wonder the bar is 'tremendously concerned,'no doubt in part die to possibilities of prosecution. I agree with Potter-- this sounds like gross incompetence.
  8. Wayne Brady
    Exactly, something went REALLY wrong here. Much of science that (I think) I understand is self taught so please correct me if I'm wrong or missing something here.

    Nitrogen boils and turns to gas at -195.79 °C (-320.33 °F.) So, as soon as a glass that was simply dipped in liquid nitrogen (not sure of the bar's procedure) hits the atmosphere, it is vapor. Even if a small amount stayed in the glass, it would be gone within a few seconds at the most.

    I remember in a high school physics class we made ice cream using liquid nitrogen. We simply mixed all of the ice cream ingredients (cream, egg, sugar, etc, etc...) with N and stirred like hell. It was something close to a 1:1 (volume) ratio. We didn't have to stir long before all of the nitrogen had turned to gas and immediately started serving bowls of ice cream. I think someone got an ice cream headache but that was the only health issue.

    It almost sounds like some crazy dare or something. Facts are missing, or I am really missing something here? How could someone actually ingest liquid nitrogen? People often lose fingers without even noticing while working with the stuff, but wow.
  9. opticcaravan
    if the bar post such beautiful pictures of smoky drinks on fb, then who can resist?

    That girl was in party mood that night and i think she was not dare to take any risky drinks that night. i think this may happened. "she did not follow the instruction how to drink it" or she mixed something in her drink which turned that drink into poison. otherwise i do not see any problem. if bar was not sure about this drink, they will never serve that drink to customers.

    i also had another question. did only she drink that cocktail? what about other people who drink that cocktail? are they Okay?
  10. Potter
  11. ratgirldjh
    It used to be very popular here to make punch with dry ice added around halloween. I have often drank punch with chunks of dry ice floating in it. This seems to be a similar thing because we always knew if we touched the dry ice or let it touch our lips it would burn us. I guess we are lucky we never accidently swallowed any.
  12. enquirewithin
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