Person who recently vaped dies of lung illness

Health officials issued a warning after a patient in Illinois appears to have become the first person to die from a severe respiratory illness linked to vaping.
4:54 | 08/26/19

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Transcript for Person who recently vaped dies of lung illness
We are back with what could be the first death linked to vaping. Doctors in Illinois announced the death of a person due to severe lung illness and said the person had recently vaped. Diane Macedo has more on this. Good morning. So this Illinois patient appears to be the first in the U.S. To die of an illness linked to now health professionals are looking at nearly 200 cases of vaping-related respiratory illnesses across the country trying to uncover what exactly is making these people sick. This morning, an urgent warning about e-cigarettes after what appears to be the first death from a respiratory illness linked to vaping. The Illinois department of public health says the patient had recently vaped. We've had the 22 cases in Illinois and unfortunately one of those 22 cases resulted in a death. Reporter: The CDC is currently investigating nearly 200 severe pulmonary illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes. The cases spread out over 22 states. Health officials have not identified a particular device or liquid as being associated with those cases saying the only common link so far is vaping in general. Among those hospitalized 20-year-old Alexander Mitchell from Utah, the once avid hiker woke up earlier this summer with what he thought was the flu but family and doctors were in shock when his health took a devastating turn. He was kept alive by two advanced life support machines. It was taking my blood from my body, removing the carbon dioxide, oxygenating it and then putting it back into my body. The doctors said that at any given moment I had a third of my blood out of my body. Reporter: Doctors linked his respiratory distress syndrome to his e-cigarette use. Now Mitchell who left the hospital on July 7th only has 25% lung capacity and is having short-term memory issues. I don't have the Stam in I used to. I don't have the strength that I used to. They're hopeful I'll recover. Reporter: Other cases include 17-year-old tryston zohfeld placed into a medically induced coma because of a blockage in his lungs. His doctors say because of vaping. Woke up just throwing up everywhere and my heart was just pounding out of my chest going 100 miles an hour. Reporter: His parents say they didn't know tryston had been vaping since the eighth grade sometimeses is much as two to three vape pods per week. We don't see healthy 17-year-olds that sick that quickly. Reporter: Chance amarato was rushed to the hospital in severe pain. Felt like I was having a heart attack and was insanely scary. Reporter: He underwent several tests and the doctors treating him said he had a lung condition made worse by vaping. So many questions still remain here. The director of the Illinois public of health tells us they're working with the CDC and other states to identify specific products in vaping in hopes of giving answers on how people can protect their health. Thank you. Let's bring in Dr. Ashton here. Jen, so many questions about this this morning. Can vaping lead to a severe lung illness? Do we know that? We don't know yet and I want to be crystal clear here, right now all of these observations are the exact example of association, not causation yet but here's what we do know. If you take a look at the list we know that there are numerous chemical compounds contained in e-cigs from nicotine to ultra fine particles, diacetyl, heavy metals, we don't know how they'll affect the lung tissue, upper respiratory tree and don't know long term. In the case of this Illinois patient who passed away, I know we don't know much. What do we know? The key thing because the awareness is up on a national level, doctors and health care professionals are now asking patients have you had exposure because then we do our medical detect I have work and it's called a differential diagnosis and go down a list, what's most likely in this age group, where have you been? What have you done? What have you been exposed to and the rare things. When you see something rare you have to consider all those things and now the awareness is up to ask about e-cig exposure. I know your own children both talk a lot about friends and people their age, peers their age using these devices. What do you tell kids? What do you tell their parents when it comes to advice on vaping. I think right now because we don't have 10, 20, 30 years of long-term data on this like we did with nicotine cigarettes, you can't assume that what we don't know won't hurt us and so you always have to err on the side of caution both in medicine and life. Why take the risk. Exactly. Seems like every day we have a new story about the warning. We'll stay on it and it's a big public health issue. Coming up, we have "Play of the day." Got it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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