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Laughing gas killed their 19-year-old son:We were one of those parents who didn't know

Nadine Grosdidier's 19-year-old son, Yohan, died of a heart attack after inhaling protoxide nitrogen, better known as "laughing gas". Since then, she has been warning about the dangers of this phenomenon, which is gaining more and more followers among young people. "So that such a tragedy, she says, does not happen again."

A dangerous practice has come to light in recent months:the inhalation of nitrous oxide for "recreational" purposes. Cartridges containing this substance - more commonly known as "laughing gas " or "proto " and which induces a few seconds of euphoria once inhaled - are often found littering the ground of city streets and parks.

A known phenomenon, whose deleterious consequences on health worry the health authorities, as evidenced by the conclusions of a study report by the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) , published in June 2020. Often trivialized by young people, the effects of "laughing gas" are, on the contrary, nothing festive and can even prove fatal.

Yohan Grosdidier, 19, succumbed to cardiac arrest after inhaling it in 2018. Nadine, his mother, alerts parents and public authorities so that such a tragedy does not happen again.

Marie Claire:what happened on the evening of May 5, 2018?

Nadine Grosdidier: "With my husband, we had just arrived in Spain for the holidays. We received a phone call from the gendarmerie telling us that our son, Yohan, had just died after having had a cardiac arrest. At the time, we don't give us any more details. We go back immediately. On the way, a lot of things come to mind, we absolutely don't understand what could have happened. He was 19 years old, why a cardiac arrest? We asks lots of questions.

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The next day, we were summoned to the gendarmerie. In the office, the agents pull out a balloon and a bottle of computer keyboard cleaner on the desk in front of us. 'Does this come from you?', we are asked. 'No'. We are then told that our son inhaled this product and died. We were in shock and in total incomprehension. We expected anything but that, we didn't even know it existed!

The evening of his death, Yohan had invited several friends to the house. The latter explained that he had inhaled gas twice in a row, half an hour apart, before collapsing. It was very powerful since it was a derivative of nitrous oxide:the bottle contained propane and butane. His friends brought him first aid. The firefighters and the Samu then intervened quickly and gave him a cardiac massage for 1h30. As he was young, they wanted to do everything to save him, but unfortunately his heart never left.

We learned that Yohan had been inhaling this product for three months, only on weekends during evenings. The term 'laughing gas' had prompted him and his friends to take it. They had seen a tutorial on Youtube that explained how to do it. Absolutely nothing suggested what happened, we never found anything suspicious in his room. He was in excellent health."

How many people have been victims of this practice in France?

“In France, three deaths have been counted for the moment, but it is difficult to obtain figures, it is not really recorded. I am in contact with a grandmother whose granddaughter was in cure of detoxification and I also know that a man had been hospitalized because it had caused him quadriplegia."

You have set up an association*, what actions are you taking?

"We were one of those parents 'who didn't know' and I immediately thought of the other families. I said to myself that we had to warn them that we could die from it. I would have liked to know that this phenomenon, which however is not new, exists to be able to warn my son. It has been known since 1998, since balloons were already sold in discotheques at the time, but we do not talk enough about the dangers.

I am in contact with the government. A bill by Valérie Létard was passed in the Senate in December 2019. It should be adopted very soon, I hope (on May 25, 2021, Parliament definitively adopted the bill which prohibits the sale of nitrous oxide to minors , Ed)".

How are you feeling after the loss of Yohan?

"It's difficult for me because I want to continue to alert and at the same time I have to mourn. But my son would not have wanted me to give up. He was a serious boy, who did not take drugs. He always reassured me when he went out by telling me that there was always a 'Sam' (nickname given to a designated driver who refrains from consuming alcohol during group parties). I think, trapped by this name:'laughing gas'. He was not wary of the danger. And then at 19, you think you're untouchable, immortal. But it can happen to anyone. Why him? Why? us? I don't know."

* Association Yohan

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