KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Adam Hergenreder, an 18-year-old student athlete in Gurnee, Illinois, received a death scare late last month due to his habit of vaping.
Hergenreder was hospitalised for the mysterious vaping-related lung illness that has taken the lives of six people in the United States, and doctors diagnosed his lungs to be like those of a 70-year-old adult.
Hergenreder started the habit about a year and a half ago with e-cigarette products, such as those of the Juul brand, he told CNN.
Eventually, Hergenreder said that he went from vaping over-the-counter e-liquids to vaping THC, which is the main psychoactive component of marijuana, which he received from “a friend” or dealer.
Over time, Hergenreder said that he developed shivers and started vomiting.
At first, doctors did not connect Hergenreder’s symptoms to his vaping and was given anti-nausea medication, but it did not stop the vomiting.
Following visits to many physicians, he finally saw someone who asked if he was “Juul-ing” and using THC.
The team overseeing Hergenreder’s care performed a CT scan of his stomach and noticed something unusual about the lower portion of his lungs. The doctors then took an X-ray of his lungs.
“That’s when they saw the full damage,” Hergenreder said.
Dr Stephen Amesbury, a pulmonologist Advocate Condell Medical Center in Illinois, who was one of those who treated Hergenreder, said the teenager had “severe lung disease” for a young person.
“He was short of breath, he was breathing heavily,” Amesbury said.
“It was very concerning that he would have significant lung damage and possibly some residual changes after he heals from this.”
Hergenreder who was connected to IVs and was provided oxygen through nasal tubes during his six-day stay in the hospital, has since been discharged, but finds daily activities like climbing the stairs exhausting.
“I was a varsity wrestler before this and I might not ever be able to wrestle because that’s a very physical sport and my lungs might not be able to hold that exertion. … It’s sad,” Hergenreder said.
The US Food and Drug Administration said that more than a quarter of high school students this year have reported using e-cigarettes and the “overwhelming majority” reference using popular fruit and menthol or mint flavors, according to preliminary data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.