Elijah McClure appeared to be a strong, healthy 21-year-old man. Now, he needs a respirator to breathe.
The young Minnesota man is the latest case of a person being hospitalized with lung injuries, which could be linked to vaping.
“It’s absolutely devastating. I haven’t heard my son’s voice in well over a week,” Sedrick McClure, Elijah’s father, told KARE11.
Symptoms first appeared to be flu-like and, after several visits to the emergency room, McClure was admitted for observation and was transferred to the ICU three days later, KARE11 reports. He is now breathing with the assistance of a respirator.
“To see him all hooked up on those tubes and not being able to respond, I wouldn’t want anybody having to go through that,” Elijah’s mom, Tami McClure, told KARE11.
On September 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an investigation notice reporting 450 possible cases of lung illnesses associated with the use of e-cigarette products in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Five deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.
On September 10, the sixth death from vaping-related lung disease was reported by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the first death in that state.
“The recent death was a Kansas resident over the age of 50,” the release stated. “...the patient had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly.”
Like many, McClure began his use of e-cigarettes as a teenager, at the age of 15, but his parents intervened and he said he’d stop.
The surgeon general issued an advisory this year detailing the high use of e-cigarettes or vapes among middle and high school students increased 900% during 2011-2015.
“However, current e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students during the past year, from 11.7% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018,” the advisory stated. “In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes.”
According to the advisory, Hispanic and white youth are more likely to vape than their Black peers. Additionally, high rates of vaping have been found in male youth.
The advisory also included a tip sheet for parents: “Talk with Your Teen About E-cigarettes.”
“We took a hard stance on it,” Elijah’s dad said. “So he started hiding it from us.”
Not only was he hiding it from his parents, but he was also using it on a regular basis, Tami McClure learned during one of Elijah’s emergency room visits.
“When we went into the emergency room the questions were asked as to what he was doing, and how often,” she told KARE11. “It was something that he said he did on a regular basis. He knew he had to be honest because at that point he’s sick.”
The Minnesota Department of Health released an announcement titled “Severe Lung Injuries Associated with Vaping,” which was updated on Tuesday (September 10) and shows 22 confirmed or probable cases and 13 people under review.
“In Minnesota, symptoms have resulted in hospitalizations lasting from days to weeks, with some patients admitted to intensive care units,” the announcement stated. “Symptoms included shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. Some patients also reported headache, dizziness and chest pain.”
(Photo: Facebook / KARE11)