In what is thought to be a first, a teenager who acquired a vaping-related lung illness that has been on the rise across America has received a double-lung transplant to save his life, reports Yahoo. The teenager, a healthy, athletic 16-year-old male in Michigan only first came down with symptoms of EVALI, or “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury,” in early September. Just over two months later, his EVALI worsened to the point that he was “days” away from death if not for the double-lung transplant, his doctors say.
When the teen first reported with symptoms, doctors thought it could be pneumonia. However, as the teen’s symptoms worsened doctors diagnosed him with EVALI, and soon had no choice but to put him on life support, before opting to give him a double-lung transplant in order to save his life. In a press release, Dr. Hassan Nemeh, a thoracic surgery specialist who led the radical procedure, called the effects of EVALI an “evil”:
What I saw in his lungs was something I’ve never seen before—and I’ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years. There was an enormous amount of inflammation … the lung was so scarred that we had to literally deliver it out of the chest. This is an evil I haven’t faced before.
EVALI is currently just a description of where a person’s lung disease likely originated from, in this case by vaping. However, recently the CDC made a breakthrough by discovering that Vitamin E acetate was one of the toxins that are responsible for the crisis. Vitamin E acetate is a thickening agent used in vaping products.
Currently, there are over 2,000 reported cases of EVALI in the United States. Every state but Alaska has reported at least one case. While many people who acquire EVALI will recover, so far the condition has led to 39 deaths.
Though the identity of the double-lung transplant patient has not been revealed, the teen’s family released a statement that they asked the Henry Ford Hospital Lung Transplant Program to share with the public:
We ask Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real. Our family could never have imagined being at the center… of this crisis. Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed.