In first such case, a 17-year old boy from Michigan, U.S. received double lungs transplant, due to vaping related injuries. The surgery was carried out on October 15 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. The hospital put out the details of the case in a news conference, on Tuesday.
The boy whose family described him as a student athlete who loves sailing and playing video games with friends, had to be admitted to three different hospitals, since September, Detroit Free Press reported. The teenager was admitted first on September 5, to St. John Hospital in Detroit, with pneumonia-like symptoms. Due to his declining condition, he was admitted to Children's Hospital of Michigan on September 12. He was later admitted to the Henry Ford Hospital on October 3, where he got his lungs transplanted.
In the news conference on Tuesday, the hospital didn't provide any identifying information about the boy, neither disclosed the vaping products he used. Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford Hospital, who was among the team of doctors who performed the boy's surgery, displayed the images of the boy's lungs before and after the operation. "What I saw in his lungs is nothing that I have ever seen before, and I have been doing lung transplants for 20 years," Nemeh said. "There was inflammation and scarring and dead tissue. This is an evil that I haven't faced before.", he further added. "This boy faced imminent death had he not received a lung transplant", the doctor said.
According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury, also referred to as EVALI, has sickened more than 2,000 people in the U.S. since March, of whom 39 have lost their lives. In Michigan state itself, there have been 46 vaping-related injuries, including one death, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services report.
Dr. Nicholas Yeldo, a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist and intensive care doctor who was part of the transplant team said, "Without the heroic measures that were taken in this case, this young patient would have died". Drawing attention to the issue, he said, "We are here today to beg the public to pay special attention to the special steps that were taken in this case. I beg of you, this was not just the unlucky one. This is happening way too much to turn our heads to this". "Who knows what's going to happen to them in the next few months or years?" Yeldo said.
Agreeing with his colleague, Dr. Lisa Allenspach, pulmonologist at the Henry Ford Hospital said, "Our adolescents are really faced with a crisis. There was a study released last week that surveyed over 10,000 middle school and high school students. And 28% of high school students reported ongoing use of e-cigarettes and 11% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes". She referred to the current scenario as "just a tip of the iceberg".
A letter from the boy's family read, "Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades. Within a very short period of time our lives have been forever changed".
Meanwhile, the doctors described the recovery of the patient as long and rough, that will take months. The boy, now taken off ventilator, would work with a physical therapy team to walk again and regain his strength.