One family is sharing their harrowing tale of alcohol poisoning in the hopes of bringing awareness to the extreme, and potentially fatal, dangers of binge drinking.
“Our 16-year-old son decided to drink alcohol for fun with his friends, that’s part of being young, I suppose, but he almost died and that’s anything but normal,” the boy’s mother, Sophie Laroche, wrote on Facebook.
Global News spoke with the mother on Wednesday. Laroche explained her son, Émile, had invited three of his friends to their family farm last weekend.
“All wise boys, they’re gamers, so not ‘party boys’ by nature,” she states, adding they played video and board games and spent some time outside.
Around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, as she was making dinner, one of her son’s friends came to the kitchen asking for help. Apparently Émile had climbed a tree and couldn’t get down.
“He managed to get him down from his unfortunate position, rinsed the vomit off him and brought him home.
The family brought the boys inside, but things went downhill quickly.
“My son was in bad shape and I was worried,” Laroche said.
“His condition continued to deteriorate visibly, he answered my questions and then five minutes later, he’s just grumbling. So, we decided to bring him to the hospital.”
On the way, Laroche said Émile started gasping, spouting saliva and was unable to hold his head up.
“He stopped reacting, he did not answer my questions and he was taking long pauses in his breathing,” she lamented.
“That’s when we understood that this situation was more serious than we thought. I was holding his head, emptying his mouth with my fingers. I was shaking every time he skipped a few breaths.”
Once they arrived at the hospital, Laroche says the medical team quickly took over. It was revealed the boy drank about a bottle of vodka in less than an hour.
Laroche says Émile had a blood-alcohol level of 36. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 means that 0.1 per cent of your bloodstream is composed of alcohol. The legal limit in Quebec to drive is 0.08.
“That’s not just a little drunk, that’s critical condition,” she said.
Her son was intubated and transported to the Montreal Children’s Hospital intensive care unit (ICU).
“What unfolded before our eyes was impressive and disturbing, but we were reassured at each stage and were never alone,” Laroche said.
Émile spent the next 24-hours being closely monitored in the ICU. The family was told that his liver and kidneys would be alright, and there was no trace of drugs in his system.
Laroche says it took hours before Émile started being able to breathe on his own again. She was able to take him home late Sunday evening.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital treats an average of 50 severely intoxicated teens every year, or one per week, said Dominic Chalut, a toxicologist and emergency department doctor at the Children’s.
The near-fatal incident has left the family traumatized, Laroche admitted, adding she never thought this would happen to her family.
“As parents, we felt untouchable.”
She wanted to share their story as a way to stop others from making the same mistakes her son did.
“Young people, do not drink like that. Chugging is dangerous and if you see a friend do it, stop them,” she warned.
“If you see someone who is drunk, do not leave them alone. Watch them, watch the signs, get help. It’s important because if we hadn’t brought him to the hospital, he could have died.”