18-year-old Illinois teen Adam Hergenreder’s vaping habit left him with the lungs of “a 70-year-old” and almost killed him, his doctors say.
Adam was hospitalized last month after using e-cigarettes for more than a year and a half.
“It’s scary to think about that — that little device did that to my lungs,” Hergenreder, of Gurnee in Lake County, told local news station WGN-TV.
He’s one of hundreds of American e-cigarette users who have suffered mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses. A clear cause of the illnesses has not yet been determined.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes after six people have died from illnesses related to vaping and more than 450 possible cases of lung illness have been reported..
“Why is this important? We are seeing an absolute surge in high school and middle school kids using these flavored products,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told WGN-TV. “Mint, menthol, fruit flavor, alcohol flavor, bubble gum.”
Hergenreder is a student athlete who vaped nicotine and THC products. He said he isn’t sure his lungs will ever work at full capacity again and wonders whether he will be able to wrestle again.
“I was a varsity wrestler before this and I might not ever be able to wrestle because that’s a very physical sport and my lungs might not be able to hold that exertion . . . It’s sad,” Hergenreder said.
He said that after vaping over-the-counter liquids, he switched to THC, the active chemical in cannabis, that he got from an unofficial dealer.
Over time he developed shivers and eventually began vomiting.
“I was just nonstop throwing up every day for three days,” Hergenreder said. “Finally I went to the pediatrician.”
A lung X-ray revealed the full extent of the damage to his lungs. Doctors said if he had been admitted to the hospital two or three days later, his breathing could have worsened to the point that he cold have died without medical care.
“It was severe lung disease, especially for a young person,” Dr. Stephen Amesbury, one of Hergenreder’s doctors at the Advocate Condell Medical Center, told WGN-TV. “It was very concerning that he would have significant lung damage and possibly some residual changes after he heals from this.
Hergenreder is now home from the hospital, but still finds it “difficult to even do normal activities, like going upstairs. I still get winded from that,” he said.
As the report reads, doctors have not been able to determine an exact cause of these vaping-related illnesses — but many people believe poor quality, secondhand cartridges containing chemicals and other additives may be the culprit.