GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (11/13/19) -- A metro Detroit teen is recovering after being the first vaping patient in the U.S. to undergo a double lung transplant.
Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital say without the transplant, the teen would have died.
Two Genesee County doctors we spoke with say this should serve as a major warning to those who vape.
"I think it was a matter of time before we started to hear about vaping causing major lung disease, and the only treatment we have for damaged lungs are lung transplants," said Dr. John Youssef, a pulmonologist with McLaren Flint.
He says while the procedure was a success for the teen, lung transplants are only performed as an absolute last resort. In fact, only 2,000 lung transplants are done each year nationwide. 100-200 of them are done in Michigan.
"His lifestyle will be affected, but the goal of it is for him to return to his normal lifestyle, but he will require a lot of medical care for the rest of his life," Youssef said.
And that time frame could be a lot shorter now.
"The average lifespan of an individual who receives a lung transplant is only about seven years."
But because the patient is so young and otherwise healthy, his team of doctors say that should work in his favor. It's not known what the teen was vaping, or for how long or how often.
But according to Dr. Luay Alkotob, a cardiologist with Hurley Medical Center, vaping nicotine for example, isn't just bad for your lungs.
"It suddenly raises your blood pressure, it increases your heart rate, thereby raising your chance of having a heart attack. In fact, vaping has been tied to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke," Alkotob said.
Doctors say the 17-year-old is recovering following last month's surgery, but the rest of that teen's life is now forever changed.
"He'll get regular blood draws, clinic checks, and medications so it's a very intense treatment program after the transplant. The transplant is only the first step of his treatment."
As of November 5th, more than 2,000 vaping related lung injuries have been reported to the CDC.
39 deaths have also been confirmed in 24 states.