91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Teen recovering from lung transplant after vaping illness; doctor says "too much to ignore"

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Doctors say a 17-year-old faces a long recovery after undergoing a double lung transplant after suffering from avaping-related lung illness.

The teen was hospitalized back on Sept. 5th for what doctors originally diagnosed as pneumonia. But his condition deteriorated quickly. In less than two weeks, his lungs grew so weak that he had to be placed on a machine just to keep him alive.

He celebrated his birthday waiting for a transplant.

He was transferred to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where he underwent a double lung transplant last month.

Dr. Hassan Nemeh says he has never seen lung tissue with the type of damage in this patient. 

Noting that the unidentified patient’s illness can be traced to vaping, Dr. Nemeh says this is a “preventable potential tragedy.”

“A lot of people lost their lives, and it will affect our future generation,” Dr. Nemeh told reporters on Tuesday. “This senseless type of product needs to be fought andaction is requiredimmediately.”

More than 2,000 people nationwide have been diagnosed with vaping-related lung damage. More than three dozen have died, including one from Michigan.

What’s causing the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses remains unclear. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified an ingredient used in some THC products as a common element in many cases.   

A CDC spokeswoman says this appears to be the first lung transplant involving a vaping patient. 

The patient's family is not releasing his name. The family did release a statement that reads in part:

“Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete – attending high school hanging out with friends sailing and playing video games – to waking up intubated 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.”

The doctors who operated on the teenage patient hope others will learn from this case and stop vaping.

“This is not just a case of an unlucky young man; this is happening too much to ignore,” says Dr. Nicholas Yeldo. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Related Content