Young Vaper’s Double Lung Transplant Sparks Warnings as E-Cigarette Sales Soar

Double Lung Transplant Sparks Warnings as E-Cigarette Sales Soar | Healthcare 360 Magazine


E-cigarette sales are on the rise, particularly among young people. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those aged 18 to 24 are the most frequent users, with 9% of youth between 11 and 15 years old also reporting regular vaping.

A Near-Fatal Experience

Jackson Allard, a 22-year-old from North Dakota, nearly lost his life due to his vaping habit and is now urging others to heed the dangers. The CDC warns that, beyond addiction, vaping can cause irreversible lung damage.

Last October, Allard’s health took a severe turn when he developed parainfluenza, leading to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. His lungs were filled with fluid, and he was critically ill. “I was really sick, barely able to sleep, puking constantly,” Allard told Fox News.

Life-Saving Intervention

Allard was placed on ECMO, a form of life support, for 70 days, with only a 1% chance of survival. His lungs were so damaged that he underwent a double lung transplant in January 2024, a rare procedure for someone his age. “The first thing that went through my head was, ‘Can I live a normal life after this?’” Allard recounted.

Currently, Allard and his family are residing in Minneapolis while he recovers from his transplant. His recovery regimen includes twice-weekly rehabilitation, weekly bloodwork, and maintenance of a PICC line for long-term medication. He takes 30 pills daily and receives IV medication with the help of his family.

Allard and his grandmother, Doreen Hurlburt, attribute his lung failure to vaping. “When I first started vaping, I was probably 14. I was pretty much non-stop doing it,” Allard said, noting that he later began using weed vapes as well.

Warnings and Advocacy

Allard now cautions others against vaping, particularly weed vapes. “I told my friend who smokes weed, ‘Be careful with that,’” he said, suggesting marijuana gummies as a safer alternative.

Hurlburt shared that she frequently warned Allard about his vaping habit. “Multiple doctors said, ‘If you smoke cigarettes for 50 years, we’ll see you with lung cancer, and if you vape for five years, we’ll see you with permanent lung damage,’” she told Fox News.

Allard must now avoid alcohol, smoking, and large crowds due to his weakened immune system.

Dr. Brooke Moore, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Minnesota, often sees patients with vaping-related lung injuries. “We’ve seen kids who have been vaping for short periods of time, and not necessarily with heavy use, come in with pretty significant lung injury,” Moore told Fox News. Most of these patients are between 16 and 19 years old.

Moore highlighted that her patients typically vape THC and nicotine, noting that both substances pose significant risks for lung disease. “It doesn’t seem to be that vaping just nicotine or just THC is less of a risk for lung disease than one or the other,” she said.

Mental Health Concerns of e-cigarette sales

Many of Moore’s patients use vaping products to self-medicate for underlying mental health issues like anxiety and depression. “It shows there is a much bigger issue at play than just people vaping to vape,” she explained.

In 2019, there was an outbreak of e-cigarette sales or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), linked to vitamin E acetate in vaping products. By February 2020, over 2,800 cases had been reported in the U.S., with 68 deaths. However, the CDC stopped tracking EVALI cases in 2020, which prompted increased vigilance from medical professionals like Dr. Christy Sadreameli of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

As e-cigarette sales continue to rise, particularly among young people, stories like Jackson Allard’s serve as a stark warning. Health authorities and medical professionals urge caution and highlight the severe risks associated with vaping, advocating for better education and prevention measures.

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