LOS ANGELES - Photos released in the New England Journal of Medicine show a 17-year-old Nevada boy’s jaw in pieces after his vape pen exploded in his mouth.
The teen, identified by his mother as Austin, received the e-cigarette as a gift from his mother so that he could quit smoking cigarettes, according to The Washington Post. Austin’s mother, Kalani Burton, said she warned her son of the possibility of the device exploding, but he’d told her he’d done enough research.
But in March 2018 after having the device for about a month, it exploded in Austin’s mouth. The blast was so strong, it cracked his jaw, shattered a small piece of the bone and knocked out some of his teeth.
“I could see blood in his mouth and a hole in his chin,” Burton told The Post.
The family rushed Austin to the nearest hospital, but because his injuries were so severe they were told to go a hospital in Salt Lake City about 200 miles away.
After a five-hour road trip, the family arrived at the hospital where specialists took over and were floored by his injuries. Dr. Katie W. Russell and Jonathan Skiro, both pediatric surgeons, worked on Austin.
Skiro told The Post he was shocked to learn a vape pen had caused the massive hole in Austin’s mouth. The surgeon described the injuries as similar to “a close-range gunshot wound.”
Austin underwent two surgeries, including having titanium plates in his jaw. The now 18-year-old has since recovered from the injuries.
Russell said she submitted Austin’s severe injuries to the New England Journal of Medicine, which published the images and details of his case on Wednesday. She told The Post she hoped to raise awareness about the dangers of vape pens.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates all tobacco products, believes the source of e-cigarette explosions may be from the lithium-ion batteries that are used in the products. The FDA deemed the batteries an unsafe source of energy for the small items.
The agency said 3.62 million middle and high school students reported using vape pens in 2018, which was a 78 percent increase for high school students compared to 2017. It was a 48 percent increase from that same year for middle school kids.
Fox News contributed to this report.