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October 11, 2018

Man Nearly Dies After Inhaling Drip Tip

Update, Oct. 16, 2018: Vaping360 has been contacted by Alan O'Brien, the unlucky subject of the story below. He has explained that his comment that he would "play it safe and stick to the cigarettes" was strictly sarcastic, and that he didn't intend it to encourage anyone else to smoke. The comment, he says, was misrepresented as un-ironic in the original newspaper story. He describes the incident as a freak accident. We agree and wish him the best of luck, and hope he has a very long and accident-free life!

Vapers often claim that vaping has never killed anyone, but one British man came very close to putting an end to that talking point. Now he’s going to star in a medical journal, with what may be the weirdest vaping story ever.

Alan O’Brien inhaled his vape so hard that he sucked the drip tip into his mouth, through his throat, and all the way down his trachea to the point where the windpipe meets the lung. Another centimeter and the 40-year-old man would probably have died.

The betting shop employee from Warrington was able to breath, because the tip lodged in a position that allowed air to pass through the hole. If it had settled at the bottom of the trachea sideways, he might have suffocated or inhaled the tip all the way into his lung.

O’Brien was working alone in the shop when the event occurred. “I had two minutes before I had to start work so I think I was just trying to squeeze in a smoke,” O’Brien told The Daily Mail.

“I think I’ll play it safe for now and stick to the cigarettes.“

“I went at it with a bit too much gusto and the mouth piece came off and went straight down my throat,” explained O’Brien. “I was choking. I couldn’t breathe. Panic set in, as you can imagine.”

O’Brien seems to have been using a SMOK Osub 80W Baby Kit. Perhaps the tip on the TFV8 Baby Beast atty wasn’t secured tightly, or had a missing or damaged o-ring, but the vaper must have had his lips on the atomizer itself to allow the drip tip to fly off with enough velocity to fly through the throat and windpipe.

Not realizing the peril he was in, he called an ambulance and kept working while he waited. The drip tip caused a whistling sound when he breathed. He later found out that if his breathing had caused the plastic tip to slip into his lung, it could have caused it to collapse, which could have killed him immediately.

“I didn’t have another staff member coming in until half 12,” O’Brien said. “It seemed like an age but I couldn’t breathe at all for about 10 to 15 seconds. I finally grabbed a breath and I tried to sick it out, but I could feel it stuck. But then I was whistling as I was talking. I thought ‘I can’t go on like this for long, it’s ridiculous.’”

O’Brien gave the staff permission to use the images from the procedure in a case report for a medical journal

Paramedics took the vaper to Warrington Hospital, where a CT scan showed the drip tip was in the trachea on the edge of entering the lung. O’Brien was rushed by ambulance to the intensive care unit at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, about 15 miles away.

Surgery was needed, but since the man had recently eaten the procedure was postponed until the next morning. With the patient under general anesthesia, surgeons performed a bronchoscopy and were able to remove the drip tip without making any incisions.

“I can joke about it now, but it was pretty scary,” he told The Daily Mail. “Initially when I couldn’t breathe it was utter panic.”

O’Brien gave the staff permission to use the images from the procedure in a case report for a medical journal. The freak accident may be the first and last example of this particular vaping danger, but it scared the Warrington man away from vaping for good.

“I think I’ll play it safe for now and stick to the cigarettes,” O’Brien said. “I guess I’m a lesson in how not to vape.”

Note: the image used to illustrate this article is not an actual x-ray of the victim of this accident, but an artistic interpretation. For those who are interested, an actual x-ray is available in the linked Daily Mail article.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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2 years ago

More ammo for anti-vaping campaigns, thanks O’Brien; driving a car, without first learning how to drive; is idiotic and then blaming it on the car when you make an accident. The Ct scan clearly shows the drip tip; that tip is used for Mouth To Lung and NOT for Direct Lung; no wonder he inhaled it “Direct Lung”. So blame it on everything, except your own stupidity. Better O’Brien quits vaping now, before he gets any other bright ideas regarding vaping.

2 years ago
Reply to  RenRen

I know this man and what happened and this article is total crap.
You’re the stupid one for believing everything you read!!

2 years ago
Reply to  Jim McDonald

He didn’t cooperate with the daily mail! He was approached by an outside company who sold it on. I’m not arguing about it but if people are really silly enough to believe that someone would say ‘I’ll play it safe and stick to cigerettes’ and believe it was genuine and not been taken out of context then that really says it all about the readers 😂

2 years ago
Reply to  Apv

If you really know that man, could you please be so kind and ask him personally how it went and update us on it?
I’d be very grateful.

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