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 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.’”
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.”