Last week, the details of the first double lung transplant to a 17 year-old due to vaping were revealed. The procedure took place on October 15th at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Although the identity of the patient is being kept anonymous, the hospital shared a written statement from the family.
First, they underscored that the effects of vaping are real. They described their son as a regular, young athlete, who went to school, socialized with friends, and played video games. But one day, he woke up breathing with a pair of lungs that were not his own. (See the hospital press release)
Dr. Hassan Nemeh, Surgical Director of Thoracic Organ Transplant at Henry Ford, said he had never seen such damaged lung tissue in someone so young, and that this teenager was facing imminent death had he not received the transplant.
According to the medical history, it all began on September 5th when the patient was admitted to St. John Hospital with pneumonia symptoms. On September 12th, he was intubated and then transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. On September 17th, he was connected to a ECMO (Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) to keep him alive. ECMO is a long term heart/lung device similar to what is used during open heart surgeries. On October 3rd, the patient was transferred again to Henry Ford and he was placed on the transplant waiting list. By October 8th, he was on his last breath. Finally, the transplant was completed on October 15th. Even though the procedure was successful, the recovery process is painful and lengthy.
The first blog I wrote about this subject was on September 8th, a little over two months ago. At that time, the CDC had confirmed five deaths and 450 cases of lung injuries caused by vaping in the U.S. Fast forward, as of November 13th, the CDC confirmed 43 deaths and 2,172 cases.
Additionally, the CDC also confirmed the initial suspicion about the vitamin E acetate–present in more than 80% of the THC cartridges samples examined–as the principal cause of vaping related illnesses. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive agent in cannabis.
As vaping banning efforts continue in America–Apple removed all vaping related apps from the Apple Store last Friday (read article)–THC vaping continues to make strides, and its tentacles are gripping more and more middle and high school age kids.
Like I said before, vaping is not rejected in social settings because it is not annoying. The vapor is almost odorless–unless you have the nose of a bloodhound like me–and the devices are easy to conceal from parents.
But in my opinion, the blame is on the cool perception of many about legalized cannabis. People who smoked weed in their glory days disregard the problem, thinking that the THC that kids are vaping today is the organic kumbaya weed grown in Cheech and Chong’s backyard. It’s not. Instead, the new THC vapers–legal or illegal–are made of deadly synthetic combinations.
Now think about this and talk to your kids–I already started with my eight-year-old. Imagine a balloon filled with glue. Let it dry, then try inflating and deflating it. That is what happens to someone’s lungs after using THC vapers. So remember, getting a transplant is almost like winning the lottery. Not everybody gets a second chance at life.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
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