More than a decade since his death, Daniel Hindle is never far from his mum Christina Anderson’s thoughts.
But while she still feels sadness at her child’s shocking death at 17 from blood poisoning triggered by a lip piercing, she accepts she has achieved ‘something positive’ despite the tragedy.
Christina, aged 52, from Richmond, set up an initiative called Dan Aid which, following a successful pilot in Sheffield, is set to be rolled out to schools, colleges and youth services nationwide.
The scheme offers advice, workshops and teaching resources designed to help young people understand the health risks and make informed choices about body piercing – an issue which Christina believes is still ‘a grey area’.
“You can walk into a salon anywhere and somebody with very little knowledge of your anatomy or health can stick a needle into you because you want to look cool or trendy, and I find that quite scary,” she said.
“Body piercing is very poorly regulated across the UK. You automatically assume it’s regulated the same as tattooing is, because it’s on the high street, but it’s not. It’s up to each individual council.”
Daniel, a keen musician, died in 2002 from septicaemia, but also suffered from a childhood heart condition which made him more likely to develop complications from a body piercing.
Christina later joined forces with Sheffield MP Meg Munn, who led a campaign to change then law so local authorities have the power to regulate piercing outlets.
“Even more people are getting pierced now,” she said.
“It’s a real issue for some schools if they do not have a policy in place. They can be at loggerheads with young people.
“With the information I’ve developed for schools they can tackle that in the classroom.
“There is no age limit as such – children can be coming in to school at 10 or 11 with belly button piercings.
“I’ve had interest from schools up and down the country asking for packs.”
She continued: “It’s all based around safety and making informed decisions.
“A lot of piercings will get infected but they won’t be life threatening – because the infection went straight into Daniel’s bloodstream there were no outward sings that he was poorly. For about a week I thought he was a bit off.”
Funding to launch Dan Aid was provided by the UnLtd HE Support Programme, a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University and its students’ union.
Christina graduated with an English degree from Hallam in 2013.
Daniel would have celebrated his 29th birthday at the end of April, and his mum – who has five other children – admitted the years since his death have ‘not been easy’.
“We mark his birthday more than his passing. We normally go bowling, which Daniel loved, and I cook his favourite meal, spaghetti bolognese, followed by chocolate brownies, and put flowers where he’s laid to rest. The world is definitely a poorer place without Daniel.”
She added: “He would have gone on to do great things with music. He was very funny, as well – a caring and thoughtful young man.
“If only he had a snippet of information in his head at the time he went for the piercing – or if he’d only have asked me. It would have put up a red flag.
“Daniel would have run a mile if he knew what we know now. His life was so precious. Because he grew up with a heart condition he knew he wasn’t like everyone else.
“Something really positive has come out of this tragedy and this can only be a good thing.”
Visit www.danaid.co.uk for details.
Infection main risk of body piercing
Bacterial infection is the main risk associated with body piercings, according to official NHS guidance.
An abscess may form around the piercing site, which – if left untreated – has the potential to cause a scar.
In some cases, it may develop into blood poisoning or toxic shock syndrome, which can be very serious. Blood poisoning can also occur without an abscess.
Tongue piercings carry a small risk of bacterial infection, despite the high number of bacteria present inside the mouth.
Earlobe piercings are generally safe, but care must still be taken to keep the piercing clean and dry.
Nose piercings are riskier than earlobe piercings as the inner surface of the nose – which can’t be disinfected – holds bacteria that can cause infection.
Most local councils keep registers of piercers who have passed hygiene and safety standards, and who are regularly inspected by health and safety officers.
People are warned against piercing themselves because of the high risk of infection or scarring.