The number of reported vaping deaths in the United States has risen to 59. Most of those emergency room visits peaked in September but those close to this crisis say the danger is far from over.
Vaping, it’s an epidemic among teens with serious health consequences.
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.
“My initial reaction was anger. You know, you know, how could you do this?” said Michael Dougherty.
Michael says Jimmy vowed to quit. But on September 9th, 1 week after his 20th birthday, Jimmy’s health spiraled downward. After 3 days of vomiting and a high fever, Michael 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,” said Michael Dougherty.
Jimmy’s systems were failing. As painful as it was to watch, Michael 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,” said Dougherty.
“Sometimes the lungs fail completely and you need to use mechanical ventilation or use an et tube to help support them on a breathing machine,” said Cynthia Gries, MD, Pulmonologist, Advent Health, Orlando.
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. Michael is sharing his family’s story to warn others about the dangers.
“Yes. It can happen to you,” said Dougherty.
The CDC reported that no single substance caused severe illnesses, but scientists have identified several marijuana products as possible causes.
Michael says his son purchased his vapes at an established store and assumed they would be safe.