JR showed up to the emergency room unconscious and struggling to breathe. He’d been in this state for at least 30 minutes when his mom finally got him to the hospital.
His mom had found him lying on the floor, his lips blue. It didn’t take her long to establish what had happened. He had done the Forbidden Fruit Challenge. The 17-year-old boy, renamed to protect his identity, took part in the social media game that stemmed from the Tide Pod Challenge.
As YouTube channel Chubbyemu reports, it did not end well for him, and he was hospitalized for the effect it had on his lungs.
In an excellent explainer video, Dr Bernard explains the case of “JR”, a boy who ate three laundry pods on a dare.
The new trend, called the Forbidden Fruit Challenge, sees a group of people all agreeing to record themselves eating detergent pods and then uploading the footage to social media. Whoever gets the most likes on their video wins.
Dr Bernard explains that JR wanted to, in his own words, “experience the greatness of laundry pod flavor and become Internet famous” when he took the challenge. In front of a sink, he took three laundry pods and put them into his mouth and chewed.
“Immediately he felt a burning sensation waft up into his nose”. Next came a numbing sensation on his tongue, followed by a lot of retching. As he coughed, some of the detergent went down his throat and some of it went into his airway.
He began frothing at the mouth and felt a burning sensation down his esophagus as the liquid trickled into his stomach.
His mom found him when his lips had turned blue and he had fallen unconscious. She rang emergency services, who told her to head to the ER.
He was suffering from a caustic esophageal injury (burning of the esophagus) caused by the detergent. As Dr Bernard explains, the liquid within detergent pods can be “at least a 100,000 times more basic than human blood”. So it’s not something you want entering your system.
“Contact with mucosal surfaces like the esophagus produces liquefactive necrosis”. This means that the tissue is dying and turning to a liquid puss, which runs further into the body. Essentially, the lining of the esophagus gets disintegrated.
“All of this happens within one second of contact”.
Damage to his windpipe also made breathing difficult, and without immediate treatment, the 17-year-old would have died.
Dr Bernard explains that as the boy coughed, the detergent got into his lungs. The more he coughed, the more it lodged deeply into his airways, and the cell lining of his lungs began to strip away.