ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - The number of reported vaping deaths in the United States has risen to 59. The youngest person is now a 15-year-old boy from Dallas and more than 2,600 people have been hospitalized with serious- or critical lung injuries from vaping. Most of those emergency room visits peaked in September but those close to this crisis say the danger is far from over.
It wasn’t the white smoke, or fruity smell that tipped off Michael Dougherty to his son’s vape use. The device itself fell out of his son’s pocket onto the floor.
Dougherty told Ivanhoe, “My initial reaction was anger. You know, how could you do this?”
Dougherty said Jimmy vowed to quit. But on September 9th, one week after his twentieth birthday, Jimmy’s health spiraled downward. After three days of vomiting and a high fever, Dougherty rushed him to the emergency room.
“And they show us the CT scan of his lungs. And you can see the damage from top to bottom throughout,” Dougherty described
Jimmy’s systems were failing. As painful as it was to watch, Dougherty snapped photos.
“He’s in this medically induced coma on a ventilator and sedated. He’s not gonna remember. He needs to see that image,” he said.
“Sometimes the lungs fail completely and you need to use a mechanical ventilation or use an ET tube to help support them on a breathing machine,” Cynthia Gries, MD, pulmonologist and Medical Director of Lung Transplant at AdventHealth Transplant Institute, said.
For some, ECMO has been a last resort. It’s a life support machine that pumps the patient’s blood to an artificial lung-sending oxygenated blood back to the body. After several weeks in the hospital, Jimmy’s lungs started to improve. He’s now working part-time and regaining his strength. Dougherty is sharing his family’s story to warn others about the dangers.
“Yes. It can happen to you,” Dougherty warned.
The CDC reported that no single substance caused severe illnesses, but scientists have identified several marijuana products as possible causes. Dougherty says his son purchased his vapes at an established store and assumed they would be safe.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.