First Double Lung Transplant in Vaping Epidemic

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  A double lung transplant is an often life-saving procedure performed when a patient’s lungs are so beyond saving that they both need to be replaced with healthy ones. On Oct. 15, this transplant was carried out on a 17-year-old who needed it due to vaping.

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  “The patient’s lungs were scarred, stiffened, pocked with dead spots and extremely inflamed, he,” [Dr. Hassan Nemeh] “said.” said New York Times article Facing ‘Certain Death,’ Teenager With Vaping Injury Gets Double Lung Transplant by Denise Grady. “On a CT scan before the surgery, the patient’s chest appeared almost empty, as if the lungs had vanished. Normal lungs look dark on imaging because they are full of air; the patient’s lungs were not visible because they were not working. There was no air.”

  Even as a doctor who had been doing lung transplants for 20 years, Dr. Nemeh said, “What I saw in his lungs is like nothing I’ve seen before.” He also added that vaping illnesses were a result of “a senseless type of product that needs to be fought.”

  The family of the teenager also made a statement: “We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real! … He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old 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.”

  Although the transplant saved his life, the median life expectancy for people after an organ transplant is only seven years. Fortunately, that number has been improving over the years. And, because of his age and his health previous to this illness, Dr. Lisa Allenspach said, “we’re hopeful that he will be alive and well for a long time.”

  Dr. Nemeh hopes that this 17-year-old will be “an advocate to stop this madness.”