Teen Gets Stomach Removed After Drinking Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail

When you're celebrating your birthday, it's completely normal to get a little crazy. But you have to feel sorry for Gaby Scanlon, a British teenager, who ended her 18th birthday night with an emergency operation to remove her stomach. What? It's because she drank a cocktail that contained liquid nitrogen.

As most people know, liquid nitrogen is so cold it burns. If ingested, it can cause severe internal damage. But a few bars use liquid nitrogen in their cocktails to flash-freeze drinks and/or add a cloud of vapour around the glass. It's cool, but not so cool when it puts you in hospital.

According to The Guardian, Gaby Scanlon began to feel sick during the night of her birthday after drinking a Jagermeister drink made with liquid nitrogen, "becoming breathless and developing severe stomach pain". Gaby was diagnosed with a "perforated stomach" and the police said her condition actually could have been fatal if the doctors didn't operate immediately. Removing her stomach saved her life.

But, uh, how does a person live without a stomach? The BBC explains that people without a stomach can still eat and drink normal food, but they just have to watch their portions and take vitamin supplements. Hopefully Gaby can make a full recovery. For the rest of us, make sure any food or drink you eat that uses liquid nitrogen is properly prepared! [The Guardian, BBC]

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    The poor woman. I wonder about her tongue, teeth, throat and all that sort of stuff too though... surely if there's enough liquid nitrogen left in the drink to damage her stomach it would have really frelled most of the stuff it touched before that?
    - If not, that'd seem pretty weird and you'd wonder if it was something else that actually did the damage to her stomach. But we really don't know either way. :(

    --- I love the new edit function! This from the BBC article:
    "As the frozen vapour hits the stomach it rapidly warms, releasing large volumes of air which can burst the stomach. "

    So that's how it probably did it...? Not freezing, but bursting. VERY painful and very hard to do according to Mythbusters at least, but makes way more sense. Poor woman.

    Last edited 10/10/12 3:38 am

    Actually you only need a tiny amount to hit your stomach. All that has to happen to perf your stomach is have a small amount settle in your stomach ie stay still long enough to freeze a bit of your stomach wall. Once it's frozen, that bit is dead and the acid in your stomach can have it's way with it.

      If it's in a state to do that though it would do more damage going down than it would do to your stomach, so the BBC explanation makes more sense.

      I agree. I guess the Leidenfrost Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidenfrost_effect) could have protected the mouth & oesophagus when swallowing. Peristalsis is pretty quick, and the drink was diluted with non-liquid nitrogen. It could have pooled together in her stomach like how different density liquids separate into layers, frozen and killed some of the lining of her stomach which would stop producing a protective mucous coating, which was then was attacked by digestive acids.

      As for excessive expansion of the stomach from the liquid nitrogen turning back to gas, she just would have burped a lot.

      And at 18, young, already had a few drinks, taking drinks from a trusted source (a bar) - I don't think she is to blame and don't think she deserves to be called "stupid".

        The key is that it has to be still long enough to freeze. It's down your throat too quickly to do much damage on the way down.

    "Ice to meet you" said the surgeon who would be operating that evening.

      Everybody freeze!

        Jokes about near-death by liquid nitrogen ingestion? That's cold, man.

          Everyone needs to chill it was just a joke.

            Some people just can't stomach this kind of humor.

              They may just need more time to digest the information.

                I can't believe some people think it's cool to do this.

    Having read this on other sites, I thought the issue was once the liquid hit your stomach it expanded back into a gas, over-expanding the stomach?

    ahhh...why the hell are people drinking liquid nitrogen???

    It's getting really easy to feel like a genius on this planet!

      It is added to drinks for 'effect' - it makes it look like they are smoking. The practice is semi legal i believe, and practiced all over the joint. In any case, whilst i enjoy pointing out others stupidity, unfortunately in this case the girl was not to know better - a simply carefree moment of ignorance that anyone could fall for, and such a shame.

      I hope that this practice is banned.

        How is this not personal stupidity? The idiot drank liquid nitrogen, even a child should understand that would be a bad idea.

          Oh be quiet, the average person doesn't have a clue what liquid nitrogen is besides being really really cold. If someone is selling a drink at a bar you will naturally assume it isn't going to harm you.

          I agreed with you at the start of the article, but after reading the comments, I'd have to disagree. Its her 18th birthday, she probably already had a fair few, and you would not expect to be given a poisonous drink from the bartender

      Mate, go watch Idiocracy. The world steps closer and closer to it being a reality every single day...

        I hear coloured cyanide adds a pleasant kick to beverages.

        No but really, I don't think it was her fault. Although personally I would not drink something with liquid nitrogen in it regardless of the location it was served at. She'll know for next time :)

      They don't actually drink it per se. The glasses are chilld in the stuff so when they are used they have that nice misty effect. However on this occasion some of the liquid nitrogen was stuck to the glass when the drink was pour.

    to get the smoke effect, dry ice is MUCH safer....

      NO its not....

      If you drink that dry ice you will have a similar effect to liquid nitrogen....

      Dry ice temp = -54 C
      Liquid Nitrogen = -196 C

      Its all not too good in your guts....

      Liquid Nitrogen is safe to hold in your hand (in small amounts, as the gas-off insulates your skin.... BUT don't grab something out of a pail of Liquid N... Preferably don't stick your hand into it....
      Dry ice isn't so nice... it tends to 'burn' on contact... (and stick)

      BUT drop some liquid nitrogen down the inside of a glove, and it will flash freeze your skin.. Or inside your stomach the same thing happens.....

      Trip to the ED, stomach removed, fat problem solved....

    That sucks heaps.... I'd be alright with this drink though, because I have chronic reflux, my stomach isn't air tight and would let the gas and fluids straight back up into my friends noses :D

    on the bright side shes also about to become a very rich girl and the that bars going to become very broke I would imagine.

    Dayum, poor girl. LN2 would be safe if used properly in the preparation of food - Heston uses it all the time and the last time I had gelato it was at a place called "N2" that uses LN2 to insta-freeze gelato ingredients.

    Didn't know you could get by just fine without a stomach though ...

    So she drank the thing that shattered Robert Patrick into a million pieces in T2?
    O dear lord. I hope shes ok

    Interesting to see if there are any bars or places that serve it in Victoria, cause it would be illegal to do it here...

    Quite simply, the bar, the bartender, the operators, the management and the owners should be taken to court for every single penny they have. I honestly cannot comprehend how unbelievably stupid this is to be serving a cocktail of this nature

    Science education has dropped in schools and unis over the past two decades. Expect more mishaps in the future.

    Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail... You Dumb @#$%.
    Don't give me the "I'm young & drunk" excuse coz that will be valid for bowling someone over while drink driving.

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