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Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital talk double-lung transplant

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 12, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — Medical history was made in Michigan because of vaping.

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit announced Tuesday that they've performed what is believed to be the first-ever double-lung transplant because of a vaping-related illness.

The patient is a 17-year-old boy whose lungs were no longer working because of irreversible vaping damage. One of the surgeons said he faced imminent death without the transplant.

But instead, he's starting a long recovery process.

"There was an enormous amount of inflammation and scarring in addition to multiple spots of dead tissue. And the lung itself was so firm and scarred, it was literally, we had to deliver it out of the chest. So this is an evil that I haven't faced before," said Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of Thoracic Organ Transplant.

The medical team talked about how this was a preventable tragedy. The head of the lung-transplant program read a statement from the family who want to warm people the risks of e-cigarettes.

"If this press announcement saves just one person, prevents others from vaping, or inspires someone addicted to seek help to quit, it is surely a step in the right direction," Dr. Lisa Allenspach said.

The family said the teenager was an athlete before his lungs started deteriorating. He was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 5 with what appeared to be pneumonia.

In less than two weeks, a machine was keeping him alive until the transplant.

Investigators believe an additive in some vaping products called "Vitamin-E-Acetate" may be what's causing the vaping-related lung illnesses. It's found in several vaping products that include THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high.

Michigan has banned all flavored vaping products, but a court has put that ban on hold.

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