MARION, Ind. – The vaping crisis hits Indiana once again. A 19-year-old from Marion is recovering after suffering two collapsed lungs. His doctors believe it was due to vaping.
We’re starting to see cases just like John Porter’s across the country. His addiction to vaping could have killed him and that’s why he wants others to put down the products and listen to his story, before it’s too late.
Doctors used the words lethal and fatal when John Porter arrived at the hospital.
“I didn’t think it would happen to me,” said Porter.
John used e-cigarette products and THC cartridges to self-medicate his anxiety. He was also a frequent user of normal cigarettes.
“I remember looking at them and saying, this can’t be safe. I don’t know what’s in here, but I don’t care, because they work really well,” said Porter.
Porter never had any problems until early August when he noticed slight shoulder and back pain. He went a week before going to see a doctor.
“I should have acted sooner than what I did,” said Porter.
He ended up in the hospital for 17 days.
“Once it had completely collapsed when I would bend over, I would feel it hitting the inside of my chest,” explained Porter.
His mother, Kim Porter said there were no warning signs.
“Had his left lung completely collapsed like his right one while he was here at home, he wouldn’t have even been able to make a phone call,” said Kim Porter.
John had four surgeries in total and four different chest tubes. The Indiana State Department of Health contacted Kim about John’s case wanting to speak with his doctors. Just last week, the state announced they’re investigating 30 cases of severe lung injury in Indiana. Although Kim Porter said John’s case is different due to the collapsed lungs, she said, the mystery behind the chemicals and vaping should concern every parent.
“Reading the articles and things I thought this is better than him actually smoking then after meeting with seven different pulmonologist apparently, that’s not better than smoking, they just don’t know what the outcome is going to be in 20 years,” said Kim Porter.
We spoke with Riley Hospital for Children’s Director of Asthma, Nadia Krupp about the recent cases.
“It’s different, it’s a little early to know for sure if it’s worse or better but it’s definitely different,” said Krupp, “We’re not sure if we’re recognizing it more, or if we’re actually seeing an escalation in the number of respiratory illnesses or a combination of the two.”
Krupp says it’s hard for doctors to determine if it’s one chemical or a combination that’s making people like John sick.
“It acts a lot like a flu like illness, it starts off with some chest pain, cough, some shortness of breath, maybe just some overall fatigue, muscle aches, just feeling overall crummy,” said Krupp, “We’ve had children that affected their liver, their kidneys as well.”
According to the CDC, the chemical Vitamin E Acetate is a key focus on the investigations. Officials have found it in nearly all vaping products that contained THC.
“I would advocate for stopping using any vaping products until we know more information,” said Krupp.
John has since thrown out his e-cigarettes and vaping products. Now, he’s focused on getting better.
“It’s almost like trying to find a new hobby almost,” said John Porter, “That was a really bad experience, not just for me but to see her go through it too as a mother, it was traumatic.”
For Kim, it’s an experience she will now use to educate others.
“So, if it can happen to my kid, it can happen to anybody’s kid,” said Kim Porter.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that they’re preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Doctors like Krupp hopes the ban goes through because she says children are drawn to the flavors.
Doctors suggest parents should begin having conversations with their children about e-cigarette use as early as 10-years-old.