Doctors suspect vaping in uptick of severe lung disease


(CNN) – One 17-year-old has a message for his peers – vaping could not only put you in the hospital… it could threaten your life.

His case of severe lung disease is one of almost 200 reported since June, which doctors believe may be linked to e-cigarettes.

17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld was previously a healthy, athletic teen from Texas whose symptoms baffled doctors.

Then he took a turn for the worse.

“His chest X-ray went from having what we would have thought was a little bit of pneumonia to having complete white out of both of his lungs,” said Dr. Karen Schultz, pediatric pulmonologist.

“I was throwing up everywhere, my heart was just completely pounding, and I really couldn’t breathe,” said Tryston.

“We eventually had to put a tube down his throat because his lungs totally failed and were not working,” said Dr. Schultz.

Within 48 hours of being admitted into the ICU, Tryston in a medically induced coma.

“They had me on this big machine that was pretty much breathing for me. If that didn’t work out, then nothing else was going to work out,” he said.

Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth ran a battery of tests looking for what caused Tryston’s mysterious illness.

But they all came back negative.

But then came a possible clue.

“His cousin came forward and started talking about the fact that they had been vaping up in his bedroom,” said Dr. Schultz.

“He immediately went home and grabbed all the vapes and everything, brought it back up to the hospital, showing them. ‘This is what we’ve been doing,'” said Tryston.

Tryston’s case is like many others across the country now being investigated by the CDC, with health officials saying there could be a link between severe lung disease and vaping.

“We do not know what causes this at this point. The best guess is that it is inflammation within the lungs so that you’re not able to breathe,” said Dr. Schultz.

While it’s notoriously difficult to prove cause and effect, it’s not just lung disease health officials are looking into.

The FDA has been conducting another investigation into what could be a link between vaping and seizures.

All of this in the midst of what’s being called an epidemic of vaping among young people.

“It doesn’t matter if your kid’s a straight-A student, it doesn’t matter if your kid’s one of the star players on the football team. You can’t be naive to what they are doing,” said Matt Zohfeld, Tryston’s father.

Fortunately for Tryston, after 18 days in the hospital, he is recovering well and is sharing his story because he wants to enlighten other people around his age.

“I definitely feel like I was given that second chance for a reason. I’m definitely not the only one. I’m just the one spreading the word at the moment,” he said.

Health officials still don’t have a good understanding of the long-term health effects of vaping.

While some worry the dangers could be severe, others believe it is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.

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