An unprecedented surgery: doctors outline double lung transplant on hospitalized teen who vaped

A young teenager went from a normal life to needing a machine to help him breathe. And without an unprecedented surgery, the story would have gotten worse.

"Without the heroic measures that were taken in this case, this young patient would have died," said Dr. Nicholas Yeldo.
And doctors say the reasons for this situation fall to vaping.

"What I saw in his lungs is nothing that I've ever seen before and I've been doing lung transplants for over 20 years," said Dr. Hassan Nemeh.

It all started September 5th when a 16-year-old boy was admitted to St. John Hospital with what appeared to be symptoms of pneumonia. The teens breathing becoming worse and a week later he was intubated. 

"Vaping-related injuries are all too common these days and actually our adolescence are really faced with a crisis," said Dr. Lisa Allenspach.

The teen was then transferred to Henry Ford Children's hospital and was hooked up to a machine to help him breathe and keep him alive. His family said he was perfectly happy and an athlete before the hospitalization.

But doctors say he continued to deteriorate and something had to be done.

"We took a life-support machine sterile-sealed and put it in his trunk and the three of us drove over to this hospital," said Yeldo.

The teen ended up receiving the first-ever double lung transplant in the US due to vaping on October 15th. The recovery has been a rough one. At a press conference regarding the procedure, doctors who operated on him read a statement from his family:

"We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are all very real! Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades," said Allenspach. 

The now 17-year-olds family also says they are "forever grateful" to the organ donor and their family and all of the doctors involved in his second chance at life. However, this isn't the last case that doctors anticipate will occur.  

"This is not just a case of an unlucky young man. This is happening too much to ignore," said Yeldo.

These doctors say of 10,000 kids interviewed, 28 percent of high schoolers and 11 percent of middle schoolers admitted to vaping.

"This is an evil that I haven't faced before," said Hassan 

And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 people have died and 2,000 people have suffered lung injuries from vaping. Although those numbers are likely higher.

"I believe we are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg," said Allenspach. "The strong, firm, absolute recommendation is that these vaping products should not be used in any fashion."