ELY, Nev. (CBS Local) — A Nevada teenager was left with a shattered jaw and broken teeth after the vape pen he was using exploded in his face.
17-year-old Austin, who lives in rural Ely, was rushed by his mother, Kailani Burton, to the nearest trauma center after the explosion occurred.
“He was bleeding really bad,” Burton told The New York Times. “It looked like a hole in his chin.”
Five excruciating hours and some 250 miles later, they finally arrived at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I was so worried driving. I almost hit a wild horse,” Burton said.
Austin underwent “open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture, dental extraction, and debridement of devitalized tissue,” said Dr. Katie Russell, the trauma medical director at Primary Children’s Hospital who first treated the teen.
“His injury was fairly extensive where he had lost several teeth,” Dr. Jonathan Skirko, the surgeon who treated the boy’s jaw, told the Daily News. “There was not really much tissue along his gum line where the teeth sit either.”
“I deal with lots of jaw fractures and have seen lots of really exotic trauma, like grizzly bear attack or riding a motorcycle…I’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff,” Skirko added. “I’ve never seen an e-cigarette explode.”
Burton said she had purchased the VGOD vape pen in a bid to ease her son’s addiction to tobacco.
The March 2018 case was detailed Wednesday in the New England Medical Journal as part of an effort to warn adolescents about vaping, calling the phenomena “a public health concern.”
Around 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes last year, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
A study by the BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal, estimated that there 2,035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries between 2015 and 2017 nationwide. In January of this year, a 24-year-old man in Texas died when his e-cigarette exploded and shrapnel tore through his carotid artery.
“People need to know before they buy these devices that there’s a possibility they’re going to blow up in your pocket, in your face,” said Russell.