An asthmatic teenager has died after being recorded inhaling laughing gas at a party.
Kayleigh Burns, from Halewood in Merseyside, has become the latest victim of the chemical – also known as ‘hippy crack’.
Moments after the 16-year-old took the dissociative substance, she collapsed at a house in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, surrounded by friends.
Attendees told her family she had inhaled the gas earlier in the evening, but later complained of feeling ‘too hot’ before losing consciousness.
Her sister, Clare Baker, said she received a message from one of Kayleigh’s friends on the night of June 4 to say she had been taken to hospital by ambulance.
Distressed, the 31-year-old then rang around hospitals in the area to find out if her little sister was okay.
But Merseyside Police arrived at her home later that day to tell her that Kayleigh, who was just weeks away from turning 17, had died.
‘Kayleigh was the most amazing little girl ever,’ Clare said in a tribute. ‘The bond that we had, I can’t even describe.
‘She grew up and had a good childhood and she was in a loving family. She was interested in make-up and fashion and wanted to travel the world.
‘She wanted to be an air hostess or work on the cruises and her life was taken away from her.’
Kayleigh had moved to Coventry to live with her girlfriend before moving to Leamington Spa.
According to her sister, she got mixed up with ‘the wrong sort of people’ as she grew older.
Her family are now urging the government to ban the drug or add an age limit to it, like in the US.
Deaths from laughing gas – or nitrous oxide – are rare, with 56 recorded between 2001 and 2020.
But doctors have warned of a rise in hospitalisations due to serious poisonings.
Clare said: ‘I will be missing a huge piece of my heart for the rest of my life now and I don’t know how I’m going to go on without her. But I need to because I have kids.
‘I want people to think about what they are taking before they take it because they’re going to leave people behind who love them.
‘People may think it is a laugh and a joke, but it’s not, they’re playing with their lives.’
According to the Office for National Statistics, the drug has become one of the most abused substances in England and Wales, particularly among youngsters.
In the year ending March 2020, 2.4% of adults aged 16 to 59 years and 8.7% of adults aged 16 to 24 years reported using it in the past year.
This makes it the second most abused drug for those aged 16 to 24 (after cannabis) and third most abused drug among those aged 16 to 59 years (after cannabis and cocaine).
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