A teenager from the United States underwent a double lung transplant in October after severe damage caused by vaping, health officials said Tuesday.
The 17-year-old was facing “imminent death” according to Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. He also believed it was the first vaping-related double lung transplant for a teenager in the US.
The teen was first admitted to hospital at the beginning of September with what was thought to be pneumonia. He was later moved to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, before being transferred to Henry Ford on October 3, where the historic operation was performed 12 days later.
Enormous, evil and irreversible
Medics discovered an “enormous amount of inflammation and scarring” on the boy’s lungs, Dr. Nemeh said. “This is an evil I haven’t faced before. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that — and tell your children to think of that.”
The teenage boy’s family was also keen to issue a statement to warn of the dangers of vaping. “We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real!” the statement read. “Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.”
The teenager, who remains anonymous, turned 17 after he was initially admitted to hospital. “Within a very short period of time,” the family statement continued, “our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”
US government concerns
The announcement by the doctors at Henry Ford came a day after President Donald Trump said he would meet with vaping industry representatives as his administration ponders new regulations following an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
More than 2,000 citizens in the US who vape have suffered illness, with up to 40 of them dying.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week identified the chemical compound vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit” after discovering it in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients.
jsi/se (Reuters, AP)
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