• December 10, 2023

My girl, 12, was left fighting for life after vaping – it was nightmare come true


AN Irish mum has warned of the dangers of vaping after it left her 12-year-old child in a COMA.

Mary Griffin, from Belfast, said her daughter, Sarah, who suffers from asthma, almost died after the controversial habit left her struggling to breathe.

Sarah was admitted to ICU and put in an induced coma after she had been vaping


Sarah was admitted to ICU and put in an induced coma after she had been vapingCredit: nichs.org.uk
Sarah had very low oxygen levels


Sarah had very low oxygen levelsCredit: nichs.org.uk

The young girl, who has since recovered, was sent to ICU on arrival in the Royal Victoria Hospital as she was “deteriorating very quickly”.

Doctors worked on Sarah for four-and-a-half hours before having to put her into an induced coma.

Mary said: “The doctor showed me an X-ray of Sarah’s lungs and explained one had been badly injured.

“The other was therefore working overtime and aggravating her asthma.

“Sarah also had an infection, so everything combined had a massive impact on her body, extremely quickly.

“When we got to ICU the team worked on Sarah for four and a half hours before having to put her into an induced coma.

“There were tubes, wires, and machines everywhere- it was heart-breaking to see her like that.”

“As her mum I just felt so helpless- it was a nightmare come true.”


The traumatised mum explained how hospital staff worked tirelessly.

She added: “Sarah had machines breathing for her, doing everything for her, and she was very unstable.

“It felt like one step forward, two steps backwards and that went on for a few days. At first, we really didn’t think Sarah would make it.

“The first time the team tried to bring Sarah out of the induced coma she was so agitated the doctors decided it was too early and they would have to induce her again.

“They then tried to bring Sarah out of the induced coma again the next day and started removing tubes, reducing her sedation, taking her off the ventilator and slowly brought her back round.

“At that stage I had some hope Sarah would be ok. She is a fighter and was absolutely amazing through everything.”


With Sarah stabilised the doctors were able to explain to Mary what had happened and how at risk her daughter had been.

Mary says: “The doctors explained that if Sarah hadn’t of been vaping, she would have been in a better position to fight off the infection. Vaping had left her lungs very weak.

“The doctors said if Sarah had have got to hospital any later the outcome would have been entirely different.

“That is something I can’t even think about.”

Sarah is now recovering at home but the effects of what happened to her will unfortunately be long-term.

Mary said: “It has been a traumatising experience for Sarah. It has traumatised me and it didn’t happen to me.

“For her to end up in ICU was a terrifying experience and she’s still trying to make sense of it all.

“For the rest of her life Sarah will be classed as a high-risk patient if she is admitted to hospital because of the effect this has had on her physically.

“This isn’t a case of a hospital stay and that’s it over with. Sarah was discharged with steroids, new inhalers, and a new Personal Asthma Action Plan to help manage her asthma.

“Sarah has been left very lethargic. She is usually full of energy, constantly talking and on the go but she is still recovering and isn’t back to her usual self yet.

“She has been through such a trauma. She still has a long road ahead of her, but we are just so grateful to have her back home with us.”

The pair are speaking out about the dangers of vaping as part of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s new vaping awareness campaign.


Mary said: “What Sarah has experienced could easily happen to other young people, and we don’t want that which is why we’re sharing our story and supporting NICHS’s vaping campaign.

“I have seen children as young as seven and eight-years-old vaping which is just horrendous.

“Sarah hadn’t been vaping heavily but that, coupled with her asthma was such a dangerous combination.

“Young people are attracted to the bright colours and flavours of vapes – they might smell and taste sweet, but people need to know about the potential dangers associated with them.

“We want other young people to see the potential impact vaping can have as it will hopefully make them think twice about doing it.

“The photos of Sarah in ICU are hard to look at, but we think it’s important young people see these and get a better understanding of the possible dangers.

“Sarah says that if sharing her story helps save another young person and their family going through the same thing we have then it’s worth doing.”

  • FOR further information and support about vaping visit nichs.org.uk.
Mum Mary said Sarah will be classed as high-risk for the rest of her life


Mum Mary said Sarah will be classed as high-risk for the rest of her lifeCredit: nichs.org.uk
The pair are warning about the dangers of vaping


The pair are warning about the dangers of vapingCredit: nichs.org.uk


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