Urgent warning after student, 24, died from inhaling three big bottles of laughing gas every day

Urgent warning after student, 24, died from inhaling three big bottles of laughing gas every day
Urgent warning after student, 24, died from inhaling three big bottles of laughing gas every day

A CORONER issued a warning to the NHS over the death of a woman from laughing gas.

Ellen Mercer, 24, suffered a blood clot after inhaling two to three large bottles every day.

Ellen Mercer died after inhaling nitrous oxide
Ellen had been complaining of back and leg pain

An inquest in April heard sustained nitrous oxide abuse, which left her unable to walk, contributed to her death.

The student, from Gerrards Cross, Bucks, died after 24 hours in a hospital emergency department without any formal blood clot risk assessment.

Heidi Connor, senior coroner for Berkshire, voiced concern that those assessments take place only within 24 hours of admission to a ward.

In a prevention of future deaths report, she said long A&E waits before a patient is admitted are not factored in.

Pals called Ellen — who died in February last year — “truly beautiful and a gentle soul”.

Last month, Ellen’s mum issued a heartbreaking warning after her daughter’s death.

Sharon Cook told The Sun: “If there is one more life that could be saved from your report, then it is all worth it.

“Ellen did not know the dangers of this drug at the time. The message was: it was legal and therefore it’s safe.

“The risks of nitrous weren’t publicized, now everyone can see the risks involved – just don’t do it.”

An inquest in April heard sustained nitrous oxide abuse contributed to her death

Nitrous oxide – the facts

NITROUS oxide – also known as laughing gas or hippy crack – was recently made a Class C due to the dangers associated with the drug.

It can cause a range of health issues and in some cases can even be fatal.

Some common side effects from inhaling the gas are dizziness, nausea, disorientation, loss of balance and weakness in legs, according to a study on its risks published to the National Library of Medicine.

Nitrous oxide can impair memory and thinking, the research mentioned. Some users might also feel anxious or paranoid.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), the gas from nitrous oxide bulbs is intensely cold, sometimes as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Inhaling directly from the canister or crackers – handheld devices used to ‘crack’ open canister – can cause frostbite on the nose, lips and throat, even the vocal cords.

The icy chill of the gas canisters can also cause cold burns to the hands.

Long term, heavy use of laughing gas can cause a lack of vitamin B12. Severe deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes.

Lack of B12 can also cause damage to the spinal cord.

In some cases, frequent and prolonged use of nitrous oxide has been linked to thromboembolic events – this means a blood clot has gotten stuck and caused an obstruction.

The so-called laughing gas has also resulted in deaths.

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