London-area teen almost needed double-lung transplant due to vaping injury
Published Thursday, November 21, 2019 7:33AM EST Last Updated Thursday, November 21, 2019 6:13PM EST
LONDON, Ont. -- A 17-year-old London-area male almost needed a double-lung transplant following what experts say is the first documented vaping injury in Canada.
The case was first reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit in September.
Doctors and researchers in London and Toronto are considering whether chemicals used in vaping could be the possible cause of this case of lung injury.
In the study from Lawson Health Research Institute and the University Health Network, doctors say the teen’s injuries were consistent with “popcorn lung.”
Popcorn Lung is a condition seen in microwave popcorn factory workers exposed to the chemical diacetyl. It causes the small airways in the lungs to become inflamed and damaged.
The teen’s case differs from other vaping-related injuries, according to the study.
“When we see this type of injury and it’s not from infection we think then about toxic inhalation exposure and given his history of heavy vaping over the last five months we were concerned that this was a vaping-related lung injury,” explains lead author Dr. Karen Bosma, associate scientist at Lawson.
Doctors say the teen went to his community hospital due to a persistent cough, which at the time was believed to be pneumonia. Bosma says the situation quickly deteriorated and the teen was placed on life support.
“Because our patient wasn’t getting better on life support and he actually needed two forms of life support we actually ended up referring him to Toronto, which is our regional lung transplant centre for evaluation.”
Bosma says thankfully the teen didn’t require a lung transplant
According to the study, the teen spent a total of 47 days in the hospital and suffered chronic damage to his airways.
“It was quite shocking because the patient previously had been healthy, no other health conditions, so we don’t like to see anyone sick but it’s surprising...to see young people so sick and critically ill,” says Dr. Simon Landman, resident fellow in respirology at Western University.
The 17-year-old patient is still recovering from his stay in the intensive care unit. He’s now back home, but it’s unknown how long the full recovery will take or if he will face challenges in the future.
Emerging reports indicate that e-cigarettes are causing a variety of lung illnesses and injuries.
“The reality is vaping and smoking both carry significant risk and if you don’t smoke, don’t vape,” says the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie.
According to a 2017 report, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used nicotine products by Canadian youth with an estimated 272,000 reporting use within the last 30 days.
- With files from CTV London's Celine Zadorsky