“All of your dreams and plans can change if you continue to use electronic cigarettes”. Who warns is Daniel Ament, 17 years old. And you know what you’re talking about. The young man from Detroit, Michigan, was on the verge of death after developing a serious lung disease related to electronic cigarettes and the associated vaporization. In October, the diagnosis was “imminent death”. He underwent a double lung transplant that saved his life. Now, four months after the surgery, he decided to tell his story to alert other young people about the dangers posed by vaping.
“It is so dangerous, it is not worth it. They must stop”, warns Daniel Ament in statements to the BBC News Brasil. Still recovering, this young American man now aims to alert other young people to the dangers of electronic cigarettes and the substances associated with them. He goes to schools and even created an association that helps those who want to quit smoking.
Healthy and a regular sport player – he liked swimming, running and sailing –, this young man’s life changed radically when he decided to do like many of his friends and smoke electronic cigarettes.
A few months after starting to smoke, his health deteriorated to such an extent that got irreversible damage to the lungs, muscle atrophy and lost 18 kilos.
He stayed two and a half months in the hospital. Doctors had little hope that he would survive, but a compatible donor changed the story of this young man.
He underwent a double lung transplant, learned to breathe and walk. Now he has a weakened immune system, he takes 20 pills a day so that the body does not reject the transplanted lungs and he wants his story to be used so that other young people do not do like him. Ament dreamed of one day joining the Navy Seals, the elite force of the US Navy. A dream he had to abandon.
He was one of thousands of Americans who developed a lung injury, associated with electronic cigarettes with liquids. A disease that caused 64 deaths in the United States and caused almost 3,000 to be hospitalized, writes the BBC.
In September last year, due to the growing number of serious respiratory disease cases reported in the USA, the Portuguese Society of Pulmonology (SPP) recommended doctors to report to health authorities cases of patients with acute respiratory symptoms who suspect they are linked to the use of electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes, a common habit among Daniel’s friends
Daniel had never smoked a conventional cigarette when he decided to try electronic cigarettes. I was 16 years old. “It was [um hábito] more and more common among my friends “, he says. First, he smoked when friends invited him, but soon vaping (vaporization associated with the consumption of this type of cigarettes) became a daily gesture.
The teenager smoked mostly electronic cigarettes with nicotine, but also those to which liquids and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a psychoactive component of cannabis, are added.
Research carried out by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many of the deaths caused by the severe lung disease recorded last year were associated with the use of THC. However, 14% of patients identified with the rare lung injury said they had used only electronic cigarettes with nicotine.
Daniel decided to stop smoking when he came across news that reported a mysterious illness that was affecting young people who, like him, used electronic cigarettes.
They started classes in September and stopped smoking. But the damage was done and one day he woke up tired, with headaches and back and high fever. The symptoms persisted and he went to the doctor.
Created an association to help those who want to stop smoking electronic cigarettes
“I had difficulty breathing. It is the last thing I remember. I woke up 50 days later and only then did I learn that I had undergone a transplant.“, recalls Daniel Ament.
“He was at risk of imminent death if he did not receive a lung transplant,” surgeon Hassan Nemeh, who led the team responsible for the operation carried out on 15 October, reminds the BBC.
On the 17th birthday, Daniel was admitted to the hospital. Four months after the surgery, the young American is recovering at home. He is still not strong enough to go to school and study online.
Although weakened and still recovering, he has gone to schools close to where he lives to, with his example, alert other young people to the dangers of electronic cigarettes.
More! Daniel Ament created the non-profit organization, Fight4Wellness, which aims to raise awareness of the problem and help all those who want to give up electronic cigarette addiction.