Teen undergoes double-lung transplant because of vaping: Doctors

Detroit doctors issued a stark warning after performing a life-saving, double lung transplant on a teenage boy they say faced imminent death due to lung damage caused by vaping.
4:11 | 11/13/19

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Transcript for Teen undergoes double-lung transplant because of vaping: Doctors
Can't wait T see how that works out. Now to that vaping danger. A teen in Detroit undergoing the first known double lung transplant as a result of vaping. Doctors say he was near death at just 16 years old. Linsey Davis is here with more. Good morning, linsey. Reporter: Hey, good morning, Michael. His parents describe him as an otherwise healthy typical teen but in September he was rushed to the hospital reportedly just days away from death and now Detroit doctors are touting success after their life-saving measures to keep this teenager alive. Doctors in Detroit are touting success but issuing a stark warning after performing a life-saving double lung transplant on a teenager who they say faced imminent death due to lung damage caused by vaping. This is the first experience I've had. His degree of illness is so pronounced that's what made our life a little more complicated. Reporter: The young man, just 16 years old at the time rushed to the hospital in early September with early pneumonia-like symptoms. The transplant performed nearly a week later. It was avenue life-saving event. There is not a shred of doubt this patient would not have had any chance to survive without Reporter: His parents describe the ordeal as horrific saying he's gone from the typical life of a 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. The teen requested the doctors show the public his damaged those white marks indicate scarred and inflamed tissue. Just last week, the CDC announced that vitamin E acetate is a potential culprit in their investigation into the more than 2,000 cases of severe vaping-related illnesses and at least 40 deaths. Though officials continue to investigate and caution there could be a variety of factors contributing? Part of our fear is the fact that we don't have a good grip on the size of the epidemic. We feel that it's rising. We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Reporter: The young man who turned 17 while hospitalized is now working on his recovery. They say he's learning to walk again and regaining his strength but let this be a public service announcement for all teens and young people about the dangers of vaping. All right, linsey, you're right about that. Scary situation. As they say tip of the iceberg. We bring in Dr. Jennifer Ashton joining us right now. Doc, lung transplants are quite rare so what kind of damage must there have been for -- to recommend a double lung transplant? This was historic, socially and surgically, there are about 2600 lung transplants done in the country every year, about 36,000 overall organ transcripts. Usually lung transplants are done for cystic fibrosis, emphysema, pull mow nary hypertension. Pulmonary fibrosis is what we saw. It should be plaque. It was all white showing it can't aerate and most lung transplant, one of the criteria for transplantation, the person cannot be an active smoker. It remains to be seen whether we add vaping to that list. Immediate survival rate is less than seven years for a double lung transplant but what could that mean for this kid? He's 17 years old? Yeah, turned 17 in the hospital, Michael and we have to this will be a long road for any transplant patient. There is a lifetime of anti-rejection medication and likely need for another transplant. This is a lot for an adult, yet alone a teenager. Damage was irreversible. What does it tell us? We're putting together more and more about the dangers of vaping and can affect blood flow to the heart and the vitamin E acetate is an irritant to the lungs and there is a lot we still don't know. We don't know the long-term 20, 30-year risk and we don't know if certain people may be more susceptible to lung failure but this is a big deal. It's a wake-up call and a great lesson. Avoid it and don't do it. For sure. Michael. Now to a crackdown at

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