Mum fears ‘bubbly’ daughter, 19, died after eating chewing gum every day

A heartbroken mum is convinced chewing gum caused her daughter to collapse and die.

Maria Morgan from Llanelli, South Wales, said daughter Samantha Jenkins, 19, bought packets of the stuff and it could have caused her body to shut down.

The happy-go-lucky teenager had been out with her sister for a meal on June 3, 2011, when she complained of feeling unwell and her mum suggested she'd been in the sun too much, Wales Online reports.

She went upstairs and Maria heard a thud and her daughter saying "Is this what it's like to die?"

That started a tragic chain of events almost a decade ago which still haunt the family to this day.

Just days away from her 20th birthday, shop worker Samantha was rushed to Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital, where doctors struggled to get drugs into her because she was convulsing so much.

Maria said: "They called me in and said because she was fitting so much, they couldn't get the medication into her that they needed and so they put her into an induced coma. They said her salts were so low and they needed to get them back up because they thought that was why she was fitting.

"They said once all her salts were back to normal they would take her off the machine and then we could try and fathom out what's happened."

Tragically Samantha's condition didn't improve and after a brain scan doctors said they thought something had poisoned her.

"It was just about trying to fathom out what it was so they could possibly save her," said a tearful Maria. "She never came back."

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After a sleepless night trying to fathom out what the cause could have been Maria received the news every parent dreads on Sunday, June 5, 2011.

Maris revealed: "On the Sunday, I was sitting next to her in this intensive care unit and the doctor came in. He basically told me that in his opinion there was nothing they could do."

A brain scan the next day confirmed there was no sign of life and Samantha was pronounced dead at 11.30am.

"All I can remember is that I went into the hospital on Friday with a daughter, and I came out on the Monday with her glasses," said Maria.

"That's all I had. I remember thinking how, how on earth can you go into hospital on a Friday with a 19-year-old daughter and walk out of there just two days later with just her glasses? It was the most, I can't even explain, most surreal – I can't even explain. It was just horrendous."

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In the following months, toxicology reports failed to solve why Samantha died and the family wracked their brains about what could have caused Samantha's collapse – until Maria's other daughter Sophie mentioned chewing gum.

"I mentioned that to the coroner's office because she did used to chew gum a lot," explained Maria. "That became a whole new thing and they wanted to know everything."

She and her daughter searched Samantha's room and found empty chewing gum boxes and wrappers in every drawer and receipts for the chewy sweet in all of her handbags.

Maria added: "I didn't realise that she was chewing every single day of the week and as many as she was, but then, even if I did, I don't even know if I would have been alarmed by it."

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A search of her daughter's Facebook posts revealed she had been unable to sleep and suffering headaches, which increased in frequency the closer it got to her death.

Maria researched online and found out the aspartame and sorbitol in present in a lot of chewing gum can cause the body's salts to drop drastically and lead to lots of complications. Many of the effects can be misdiagnosed as conditions like lupus and irritable bowel syndrome.

The inquest heard, her daughter had a severe magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium deficiency, and Maria claims the coroner was unable to rule out Samantha's reliance on chewing gum as a factor.

The coroner said studies had shown the sweeteners used in chewing gum to be safe but in recording a narrative verdict he mentioned chewing gum could have played a role in the electrolyte depletion.

Maria said: "There are so many 'whys' for me, but the biggest why is why on earth have I lost my daughter to chewing gum? I mean chewing gum, come on, it's ridiculous," she said.

"I still can't get my head around it 10 years down the line. She was such a loss. Bubbly, vivacious, fun-loving, wouldn't harm a fly.

"I'm not telling the world to stop chewing chewing gum but what's annoying to me is that we don't know these things that they are putting into stuff. We think our kids are having stuff which is harmless. We have no idea what they are putting in."

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