Kevin Boclair, 19, was connected to a heart-lung machine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors said he might need to undergo lung transplant surgery. The man's family said doctors blamed the severe symptoms on vaping.
"He was coughing violently enough that he was throwing up. In the morning, he didn’t look good. His color was like gray. I ran him to the urgent care and they did an X-ray," Debbie Boclair told FOX 29.
A surge of mysterious respiratory illnesses prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an advisory on Friday against using e-cigarettes. Health officials said that as of Aug. 27, 215 cases of lung disease reported in 25 states were possibly linked to vaping.
Investigators are also looking into the death of an Oregon resident from "severe respiratory illness” after the person used an e-cigarette device in July. A similar fatal case in Illinois last month marked what U.S. officials said was the first vaping-related death.
Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief of pediatric pulmonology at NYU Langone Health, shared her own patient's life-threatening experience and said children as young as middle school students are now using e-cigarettes and becoming addicted to nicotine.
"They use it even in classrooms, in bathrooms in schools. It is becoming a real problem," she said, lamenting that this has happened after the country succeeded in reducing smoking by young people.
Pirzada said an 18-year-old man was admitted to her hospital recently with an acute onset of symptoms, like chest pain, vomiting, fever and coughing. After being placed on antibiotics for pneumonia in both of his lungs, he was soon fighting for his life and had to be placed in a medically-induced coma for a week.
"He almost died. We were very lucky. ... When you develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, the mortality can be as high as 70 percent," said Pirzada.
Doctors were stumped over the cause of the illness until the teen's mother found he'd been vaping a fake THC oil cartridge, likely purchased on the street. She said states should follow Michigan's lead in banning flavored e-cigarettes, which she said are becoming more and more popular with young people.