A 17-year-old Nevada teenager was left with what looked like "close-range shot wounds" after a vape pen that his mother had given him to help him stop smoking exploded in his mouth. In fact, his injuries were so severe that his doctors filed their case with the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) so that others could be alerted to the potential dangers.
The young person identified by his mother as Austin assured his parents that he had conducted his investigation of the units before requesting him to stop smoking. Kailani Burton told The Washington Post that she had heard of the possibility of the devices exploding and had warned her son repeatedly.
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"I told him," You must be careful "These things have happened," she said to the post.
But in March 2018, about a month after getting the device, Burton said she heard a loud pop followed by her son's screams.
"I could see blood in the mouth and a hole in his chin," Burton told the post.
She hurried him to a local hospital, but due to the severity of his injuries, he was transferred over 200 miles away to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
"He had a very swollen lower jaw and lip, a small burn on his lip and a big piece in his mouth," said Dr. Katie Russell, a pediatric surgeon who treated the teenager to The Post. "A two-centimeter piece of his jaw was just blown to pieces."
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Austin has since recovered after undergoing two operations to straighten his wounds and titanium plates in his jawbone. Jonathan Skiro, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon who helped care for Austin, told the post that his injuries looked like "a close-shot wound."
Russell said she filed the case because they had never seen injuries as severe as Austin is in the hands of a vape pen.
"I had no idea that these vape pens could burst and cause serious injury," Russell told The New York Times. "This technology hit the market by storm and people are not aware of it. But the fact is, they can burn you. They can explode in your pocket. They can explode in your face. I think there is a health concern. "
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that 3.62 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, an increase of 78 percent among high school students from 2017 and 48 percent increase among middle schools.
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While the agency warns of vape pen explosions causing serious injury, it notes that the exact causes of such events remain unclear, but evidence suggests battery-related issues. The FDA said the best way to protect against such events "can know as much as possible about your device and how to handle and charge the batteries properly." It also requires all events of explosions to be reported through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal. 19659018]