INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — “If I would have just said no, it’s that simple,” 17-year-old Tyler Ware said as he sat in Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, just days after being released from the ICU.
That's where he spent six and a half days on life support fighting a lung illness doctors believe was caused by vaping.
“It was very tough," said Tyler's mother Stacie Ware. "I wouldn't wish it on any parent, ever.”
Just days earlier, Tyler was home fighting what his mom thought was a normal illness until a trip to the emergency room revealed something worse. Tyler then revealed to doctors the possible cause.
“Tyler was vaping," Stacie said. "Because he was vaping his lungs were damaged."
Unknown to his mother, Tyler had been vaping nearly every day for two years.
“His lungs were just destroyed basically," said Dr. Nizar Kherallah with Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. "A massive destruction to the fabric of the lungs.”
Doctors had no choice but to place Tyler on a ventilator. His future as a high school baseball player and dreams of joining the military began slipping away. All his family could do was watch.
“(I) cried a lot," Stacie said. "I stayed by his side as much as I could.”
Tyler survived. In less than a week he was off the ventilator and began walking again. It's still unclear if any long-term damage will result from the illness, but Tyler is hopeful he can make a full recovery.
“He’s lucky, he’s very lucky,” said Dr. Kherallah.
Now Tyler and his mother are speaking out, warning others about the dangers. They hope his story will inspire others to quit.
“It was scary opening up," Tyler said. "I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, but at the end of the day me being honest with my doctors that I was vaping, that I was doing all the harmful stuff, it probably saved my life."
“These kids think it’s not going to hurt them because its not smoking," said Stacie. "But Tyler is proof that it can hurt you, and it can hurt you bad.”
According to the CDC, over 2,600 people have been hospitalized so far in the United States because of vaping, and at least 60 patients have died.
The CDC says the "vast majority" of the those cases were caused by Vitamin E acetate, a chemical linked to illicit THC products.
It's unclear what products or chemicals may have caused Tyler to be hospitalized.