The vaping-related lung illnesses blowing up the United States recently, marked the most unusual surgery by far. A teenager in Michigan reportedly became the first person ever to receive a double lung transplant due to vape-inflicted injury.
On October 15, a 17-year-old boy underwent the roughly six-hour transplant surgery conducted by a medical team at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. At a news conference on Tuesday, Thoracic Specialist Dr Hassan Nemeh said, “This is an evil that I haven’t faced before.”
“This is a preventable tragedy,” Nemeh said. “This senseless type of product needs to be fought.”
The unusual transplant surgery came as the concerns over harmful side effects of vaping products rise. In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted that 1,300 confirmed or probable lung injury cases have been reported. Casualties have been confirmed in 21 different states, where 26 people, including teenagers, have died from the vaping-related illnesses. However, the direct cause of these illnesses remains unknown.
Last week, the CDC reported that evidence proving vitamin E acetate found in some THC products was linked to some of such cases, have been found.
There was no information on whether or not the teenager had been using vaping products before becoming ill. However, the doctors had stressed for individuals to stop using the products, which are creating a rash of vaping-related illnesses across the country.
He was hospitalized in early September with a seeming condition of pneumonia, but was put on a ECMO machine after his condition deteriorated. The machine pumps and oxygenates an individual’s blood, putting the heart and lungs to rest. However, the technique didn’t do much of help in his case, as his lungs were badly inflamed.
The teen spent a month on a life-support machine as he suffered a “complete lung failure”, and would have faced “certain death” without the operation, said the doctors. His condition become so grievous that he became top priority on the national transplant list, where most patients spend months waiting for a donor. He received a transplant from an anonymous donor.
His family chose not to disclose his name and described him as an athlete. They said he “has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy athlete…to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted”.
It has been noted that a median survival for patients receiving double lung transplants is about seven years. However, director of the lung transplant program at Henry Ford Health System, Dr Lisa Allenspach stated that the officials were optimistic that the Michigan boy will be “alive and well for a long time” given his youth.