Facing ‘certain death’, boy in US with vaping injury gets double lung transplant, United States News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

(NYTIMES) – A 17-year- boy whose lungs were irreversibly damaged by received a double-lung transplant at the Henry in , a -saving measure taken when a patient’s own lungs are diseased or damaged beyond and is no hope of survival, said on Tuesday (Nov 12).

Without the transplant, performed last month, the patient “would have faced certain ”, Dr Nemeh, who led the surgical , said during a conference at the hospital.

The patient’s lungs were scarred, stiffened, pocked with dead spots and extremely inflamed, he said.

On a CT scan before the , the patient’s chest appeared almost empty, as if the lungs had vanished. Normal lungs dark on because they are full of air; the patient’s were not visible because they were not working. There was no air.

“What I saw in his lungs is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I’ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years,” Dr Nemeh said. He added, “This is an I haven’t faced before.”

The patient is recovering well and is up and about , but still in the hospital. His name is being withheld to protect his , but he and his wanted to release about his case in the hope that it might persuade other to quit vaping or never start, hospital officials said.

A at the briefing read a statement from , which said, in part: “We asked Henry Ford doctors to that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real! Our family could never have imagined being at the centre of the adolescent crisis to face our country in decades.

“Within a very short period of , our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete – attending , hanging out with , sailing and playing – to waking up intubated and with two lungs, facing a and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and , which has been severely impacted.”

The doctors declined to say what products the patient had been vaping, how long he had been doing it or how often.


About 86 per cent of the with lung injuries in this outbreak had vaped THC, the in that makes people high.

The case is the transplant reported in the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, and it highlights the severity of an illness that, as of Nov 5, had sickened 2,051 people and killed 40.

Researchers have described the lung damage from vaping as chemical , similar to the injuries in people who have inhaled fumes in , or in soldiers attacked with mustard in I.

The patient was first admitted to a different hospital on Sept 6 with what was to be . His condition worsened and he was placed on a ventilator on Sept 12. He continued to deteriorate.

On Sept 17, he was transferred to a second hospital, where he was connected to a machine that delivers directly to the bloodstream.

His health continued to decline, and in October, he was transferred to Henry Ford Hospital, where he was put on the waiting for a lung transplant. A national organisation sets the criteria for eligibility, not individual hospitals. Several factors quickly pushed him to the to top of the , Dr Nemeh said: He was a , the lung damage was irreversibleĀ and he would die without the transplant.

The surgery was performed on Oct 15. The doctors said they could not reveal any information about the source except to say that the donor had been healthy.

Health officials investigating the outbreak described a advance last week: Researchers found a “very strong culprit”, a form of vitamin E, in the lungs of patients who had the vaping illness. The substance, vitamin E acetate, is sometimes used by illicit sellers to “” or dilute THC and increase profits.

Finding the chemical in the lungs meshed with that had already found it in vaping products.

The vitamin compound is thick and sticky. Precisely how it might damage the lungs is not yet known, and health authorities say it is still possible that other added to vaping fluids also contribute to lung .

The doctors in Detroit did not say whether vitamin E acetate had been found in the patient’s lungs.

“We’re going to see more of this,” said Dr Mangala Narasimhan, a lung specialist at Long Jewish Centre and Northwell Health’s regional of critical care, who has treated several severe cases of the illness.

“We definitely see some patients who have such severe lung damage, we are that some of it might not be completely reversible.”

None of her patients have needed transplants. In , lungs for transplantation are difficult to obtain, she said.

“A number of patients die waiting.”

About 2,500 lung transplants were performed in the in 2018, compared with more than 21,000 .

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