Michigan teen who suffered vaping-related damage recovering after rare double lung transplant

DETROIT, Mich. (WLS) -- A teenager in the Detroit area is recovering after receiving a rare double lung transplant. Health officials say his lungs were damaged by vaping.

He was healthy 16-year-old high school athlete until he went to the hospital with symptoms of pneumonia on September 5. A month and half later, the Michigan teenager was facing death and underwent a double lung transplant.

"The lung itself was so firm and scarred, we had to deliver it out of the chest," said Dr. Hassan Nemeh from Henry Ford Health System. "This is an evil I have not faced before."

Dr. Nemeh said he had never seen a patient with such damaged lungs, especially coming from a cause that is completely preventable.

The anonymous teenager was on the brink of death from vaping. His life was saved by a team of doctors at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital.

One of those doctors even used his own car to take a portable life support machine that was used while the boy was transported from a children's hospital to Henry Ford.

'We took a life support machine, sterilized and sealed, and put it in his trunk and three of us drove over to the hospital," Dr. Nicholas Yeldo said.

RELATED: What harm does second-hand fumes from vaping cause to young lungs? Medical experts want to know

It's been over a month since the teenager underwent the double lung transplant. His doctors say he is recovering well, but it will be a long, rough road.
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Doctors at a Detroit hospital have performed a double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were damaged from vaping.

"We are hopeful, given his youth and his progress, he will be alive and well for a long time," Dr. Lisa Allenspach said.

The boy's family wanted his doctors to use his story to spread the message about the dangers of vaping. Public Health officials around the country, including in Cook County, say until more is known it is best to avoid all together.

RELATED: Breakthrough in CDC vaping illness investigation: Vitamin E acetate and THC may be to blame

"We need to know so much more. What the specific cause is, also who is at risk. What specific products can cause this kind of lung injury," Dr. Steven Aks with Cook County Health said.

More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teenagers and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.

RELATED: 3rd Illinois resident dies of vaping-related lung damage, officials say

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced a breakthrough into the cause of a vaping illness outbreak, identifying a chemical compound as a "very strong culprit." Vitamin E acetate previously was found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who got sick and only recently has been used as a vaping fluid thickener. Many who got sick said they had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana.
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