Under Age Binge Drinking: Children As Young As 17 Need Liver Transplants

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Underage drinking of spirits

Children as young as 17 need a new liver because they drink so heavily, according to a surgeon.

Professor Rajiv Jalan told Channel 5 News: "These youngsters are drinking from the ages of 12, 13 and 14.

"They're consuming, say, half a bottle of vodka a night and by 17 or 18 they have end-stage cirrhosis."

Official figures show 6,580 under-18s - and 293 children aged 11 and under - were admitted to A&E in a year as a result of alcohol, Channel 5 News discovered.

Some doctors have refused to operate on the drunk youngsters. And while cases of heart disease have halved in the past 40 years, liver problems have risen five-fold.

Alcohol is now the top cause of death in men aged 16 to 24. Prof Jalan, based at University College London, said his team dealt with a boy of 18 who needed a transplant but could not be given one because he had been drinking up until the time of the operation.

He has now called on the legal drinking age to be raised to 21.

Prof Jalan said: "Kids can drink at home from 16 and go to the pub at 18. We're sending out the wrong message. In future I'm not sure we will have the money to pay for their treatment."

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