Teenager warns of 'dance with death' drug

Ecstasy's dangers: Coma survivor vows never again as mother urges young to 'say no'
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A teenager who spent 24 hours in a coma after taking ecstasy yesterday appealed to young people not to take the drug which she likened to a "dance with death".

Helen Cousins, 19, appeared at a news conference minutes before going for a second operation to rectify the tracheotomy which became necessary after she suffered a relapse during her recovery.

Barely able to speak above a whisper because of the tube still in her throat, the sales assistant from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was asked if she would ever take ecstasy again and replied: "Never again."

Miss Cousins fell into the coma in the early hours of New Year's Day minutes after she was taken to Peterborough district hospital.

She had taken the drug at a nightclub on New Year's Eve, but had been taken to a flat shortly after 1am when friends noticed that she was not feeling well.

When her condition continued to deteriorate, her friends called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit where she remained for two days.

Doctors believe that her coma had been induced by the seven litres of water she drank in a desperate bid to combat the effects of the drug, which can cause dehydration among those who dance for long periods.

The drug also interferes with the abilities of the kidneys to get rid of the water and can bring on a coma.

Yesterday, at the Edith Cavell Hospital, Peterborough, Miss Cousins appeared at the conference flanked by her mother, Janet, 51, and father, Trevor, 47.

Simon Harrison, the hospital's surgical and life support general manager, said that her recovery had been so dramatic that she would probably be released from hospital today after the operation to remove the tracheotomy tube.

Mrs Cousins thanked the doctors for their skill and the public for their support, including Paul and Janet Betts, whose daughter Leah died after taking ecstasy last November.

But Mrs Cousins added her own appeal. "I'm pleading to all young people, don't chance your life, it can happen to you. If you take ecstasy it can take your life. Nothing is worth that. Don't weaken, be strong and say, 'no'.

"Helen would like to say that it is when problems like this hit home you realise ecstasy isn't worth the dance with death."

t Detectives in Stafford yesterday unveiled a haul of lethal fake ecstasy tablets worth pounds 1.5m. The 100,000 tablets were found to contain the stimulant ephedrine and the anaesthetic ketamine. A similar batch of tablets, imprinted with a question mark, were found in Birmingham on Tuesday. Police warned the drugs could kill.