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17-year-old vaper becomes first in US to undergo double lung transplant

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 15, 2019
Operating Room

EVALI has been linked to vitamin E acetate, an oily chemical added to some THC vaping liquids to thicken or dilute them. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, fever, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Researchers are currently working on a number of solutions for quick diagnosis and treatment, such as the development of an algorithm that assists in making diagnoses and treatment of the condition, based upon early guidance of the CDC.

The patient is reported to be well and recovering. As of late October, he is off his ventilator and learning to walk again. But Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford Health System and the surgeon who performed the double transplant, fears this is just the beginning of a number of similar operations, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services having identified 46 (26 confirmed and 20 probable) cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping, including one death. The actual number is believed to be greater.

“This patient and his family asked us to share the medical aspects of the case to warn others about the dangers of vaping in an effort to avoid additional injuries,” Nemeh told HCB News. “Unfortunately, we believe we are seeing the tip of the iceberg involving EVALI. I can safely predict we will be seeing more of this until the cause of the epidemic is identified and eliminated.”

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