Special to The Ely Times

A local Nevada teenager was left with a shattered jaw and broken teeth after the vape pen he was using exploded in his face.  According to the Kailani Burton, it appeared as thought the battery in the device had caught on fire. Although the incident happened in March of 2018, research went into it, and was recently reported to cause awareness of the dangers of vape devices.

Austin Burton, 17, was rushed by his mother, Kailani, to the William Bee Ririe Emergency Room after the explosion.

Burton explains to The Ely Times that when they arrived to the emergency room, the staff didn’t take an x-ray, perform any type of scan, or any type of examinations to check for broken bones, or internal damage. Burton cannot remember the doctors name, but she she was told, “There’s nothing we can do, you’re going to have to take him to Vegas or Salt Lake.”

Kailani loaded up Austin and drove 250 miles to Salt Lake City to the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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.

It was reported that his injury was fairly extensive where he had lost several teeth. Dr. Jonathan Skirko was the surgeon who treated the boy’s jaw.

“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 said. “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 incident happened a month after they purchased the vape pen.

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 there are 2,035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries between 2015 and 2017 nationwide. In January of this year, a 24-year-old man died 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,” Russell said.

Kailani Burton said her son has since stopped smoking and vaping all together. “He really wants to let others know that it’s not worth it, and it’s not safe at all.”