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Girl drinks herself to death in 'water poker'

Published: 06 Jul 2012 15:04 GMT+02:00

The girl had drunk six litres of water in the game, and was pronounced dead in her home town after being declared brain dead in Sweden following the incident.

The school children played the game on the Åland islands located between Sweden and Finland, with the rules being that the loser of each hand on poker had to down a whole glass of water.

The girl’s water intoxication was not noticed by teachers until they were making a head count of the students later in the evening.

“She sat on the toilet and vomited. She had drunk an enormous amount of water,” said Jukka Silvola, principal of the school, to the Aftonbladet newspaper, adding that the girl was “truly well-liked”.

The 12-year-old was immediately taken to a hospital in Åland capital of Mariehamn before being transferred to specialist ward of the Uppsala University Hospital the next morning.

There, the girl was declared brain dead and was taken to her hometown of Nystad in eastern Finland in May, where she died a few days later.

Johan Valtysson, head of the intensive care ward at the Uppsala hospital, explained how water intoxication can lead to fatal disturbances in brain functions.

“What happens when you drink too much water is that your blood is diluted and salt levels in the blood are increased,” he told the paper.

“The effect is that the water is drawn into the brain which then swells up due to the brain’s fluid accumulation. The blood flow is then cut off and you become brain dead.”

An adult should drink around two to three litres of water a day, and the 12-year-old is believed to have consumed six.

Meanwhile, Valtysson told the paper that he can’t fathom why anyone would play “water poker”.

“This is a truly dangerous game,” he said.

TT/The Local/og

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Your comments about this article

17:33 July 6, 2012 by tadchem
"What happens when you drink too much water is that your blood is diluted and salt levels in the blood are increased," he told the paper.

Wrong. Salt levels are *decreased*. It is called 'hyponatremia.' Even water can be poisonous.

"All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." - Paracelsus, ca 1520.
17:41 July 6, 2012 by Paul_225
If she got a royal flush this wouldn't have happened. (Sorry).
18:23 July 6, 2012 by cattie
My son has a salt-losing congenital condition that causes hyponatremia. If the electolyte imbalance becomes too much, it leads to seizures, brain damage and then heart failure.
19:26 July 6, 2012 by dizzymoe33
Another sad tragedy. But my question is where were the adults? Was there no adult supervision?
21:19 July 6, 2012 by johan rebel
There is apparently no limit to the many new ways of natural selection that modern society can come up with.
22:12 July 6, 2012 by johnny1939
I always knew that water was bad for you.
00:21 July 7, 2012 by Rat bat
Oh dear, what a stupid game. I have heard of fatal water intakes in the past. Normally they have involved derranged or intoxicated people.

I guess that the osmotic effects started to make her cells burst
00:41 July 7, 2012 by suso
This is a tragic death which could have been avoided easily in the first place.Children have relatively small body mass and could easily get Water Intoxication.Almost all known cases of this syndrome in non-exercising otherwise normal individuals are recorded in circumstances of forced water drinking,and all too often in contests.

There should have been enough awareness of this condition all around.

but why that delay in recognizing the problem?surely she had symptoms and signs before her condition became irreversible.

she died at home.However,being a child who was previously healthy I would stayed her in the ICU for a longer period than for an adult,until all attempts,however meager,failed.

A bad reflection from many sides.
08:18 July 7, 2012 by playmobil
Very sad for the family.. Wondering now if someone gonna call for a ban on water after this tragic death..

Happy that everyone agrees strait away about the abuse of water being the cause of the death and not the water for once..

Usually, everyone forget about this concept of abuse and call for a ban of the substance in itself.. Yes aim talking about drugs.
14:08 July 8, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
It is sad that someone died at such a tender age. It has always been said that taking too much of something could be bad for your health.
11:45 July 9, 2012 by nolikegohome
water intoxication: headache, personality changes, changes in behavior, confusion, irritability, and drowsiness. These are sometimes followed by difficulty breathing during exertion, muscle weakness, twitching, or cramping, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and a dulled ability to perceive and interpret sensory information. As the condition persists papillary and vital signs may result including bradycardia and widened pulse pressure. The cells in the brain may swell to the point where blood flow is interrupted resulting in cerebral edema.

Had the teachers had noticed the early signs as mentioned above they should have stopped the girl from drinking water and or contacted the hospital. But then not many ppl know about this.
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