Friday, August 30, 2019

A 20-year-old man who was left on life-support after taking MDMA at Electric Picnic last year has urged people to avoid drugs at this weekend’s festival.

Brandon Webb, a former contestant on Ireland’s Got Talent, suffered 300 seizures in the space of two hours after taking drugs for the first time last year.

The Kildare man was placed in an induced coma after suffering a stroke on his left side minutes after ingesting the drug.

‘I never looked at drugs before because I wasn’t that type of person, I wasn’t even a big drinker, I never associated myself with that type of stuff,” he told RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show.

He said his guard came down after he was handed the MDMA crystal on the final day of the festival

“I took it and I paid the price for it,” he said.

Brandon in intensive care at Naas hospital last year. Photo: Facebook.

Within 15 minutes of taking the drug, Brandon sat down on and a chair and knew something wasn’t right.

“I sat in the chair and started having a mini-stroke on my left-hand side. My whole left side was gone. I stood up and collapsed, my heart stopped there and then.”

Luckily, an acquaintance of Brandon who was sober gave him CPR. He was taken by ambulance to Naas hospital where he says “things went from bad to worse”.

His parents were called and within a couple of hours, Brandon had suffered hundreds of seizures.

“I was talking to my Mam and Dad during the seizures, I don’t remember it because [the doctors] were giving me anti-seizure medication.”

Because of the number of seizures which Brandon had and the pressure his heart was under, the doctors decided to place him in an induced coma.

His mother told him that during this time, “we thought your heart was going to come out through your skin”.

After he was put in an induced coma for more than 24 hours, Brandon was awoken but suffered another seizure.

“‘They put me back under and that’s when they said this isn’t good,” he said.

He was then in another induced coma from the Tuesday evening until the following Friday.

Everyone was preparing to say goodbye to me.

“I woke up on the Friday and thank God, all that was wrong with me was a collapsed lung,” he said.

“My heart had stopped three times, it stopped at the festival and then in the back of the ambulance. It stopped again in the ICU in Naas.”

When Brandon woke up, the doctors had some words of warning.

“The doctor put it straight to me, he said, ‘I’m not going to pussyfoot around, I’m going to tell it to you straight, you don’t understand how stupid you are’.

“The consequences of what you’ve done could have torn your whole family apart.

“It gave me the wake-up call that I needed. To this day that doctor saved my life,” he said.

Following the traumatic incident, Brandon said he was his own harshest critic, particularly since his younger brother and sister had come to say goodbye to him when he was in the coma.

“The way my Mam put it, that was punishment enough for me. It still affects them to this day.”

Brandon still looks at the photo of himself from Naas hospital every day to remind himself of how lucky he is to have survived.

He hopes that by sharing his story, he will deter people from experimenting with drugs.

If my [Facebook] status or me talking about it saves one life this weekend, saves one person from thinking about taking [drugs], that’s enough for me.

The doors opened for Electric Picnic at 4pm yesterday with around 57,000 people expected to attend over the three days.

Gardaí in Co Laois seized drugs “within minutes” of the gates opening, with people found in possession of cocaine, ketamine, LSD and MDMA

Gardaí wished to remind people attending the festival that any seizures made “will have consequences for the individual” and that “keeping people safe and free from harm is important”.

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