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Michigan teen becomes first in US to have double lung transplant due to vaping damage

Michigan teen becomes first in US to have double lung transplant due to vaping damage
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A Michigan teenager is reportedly believed to be the first person ever to receive a double lung transplant due to a vaping-related illness that has swept through the United States. 

"This is an evil that I haven't faced before," Dr. Hassan Nemeh, a thoracic specialist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to NBC News.

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Doctors did not comment on whether the the 17-year-old boy had been using vaping products before becoming ill. But they stressed that individuals should stop using the products. 

The teen's family has elected not to disclose his name. They said in a statement that he "has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted." 

NBC News noted that the teen had been hospitalized in early September for what seemed to be a case of pneumonia. After his condition worsened, He was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Michigan, where he was reportedly hooked up to a ECMO machine. The machine allows the heart and lungs to rest by pumping and oxygenating an individual's blood. 

But the technique did not resolve the issue since the teen's lungs were so badly inflamed, NBC News reported. 

Nemeh said that the young man would have "faced certain death if it weren't for the lung transplant." The teen received the a transplant from an anonymous donor after being transported to the Henry Ford Health System. 

The 17-year-old's situation comes amid mounting concerns over the harmful side effects of vaping products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in October that 26 people have died throughout the nation from vaping-related illnesses. 

Deaths have been confirmed in 21 different states. Almost 1,300 confirmed or probable lung injury cases related to vaping had been reported to the CDC as of early October. The CDC has said that it still is unaware of the direct causes of the illness. No specific brand has been connected to the cases. 

The CDC announced last week that it had found evidence that vitamin E oil found in some THC products was linked to at least some of the vaping-related illnesses throughout the country. 

The median survival for patients who receive double lung transplants is about seven years, NBC News noted. But Dr. Lisa Allenspach, director of the lung transplant program at Henry Ford Health System, told the network that officials were optimistic that he will be "alive and well for a long time" given his youth.