PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - On Friday, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been at least five death across the country, including one in Oregon, due to severe lung disease that could be caused by vaping.
Now, a Portland man says he’s one of the lucky ones. He’s recovering at home after being hospitalized for vaping toxicity, according to his physician.
25-year-old Justin Wilson was working in a smoke shop and surrounded by e-cigarettes before this all happened. It had been a year since he quit smoking cigarettes himself and switched to vaping.
“It was something I would push on my customers, and it was something I did to quit smoking, too. It worked. I got off cigarettes,” Wilson said.
But last Sunday, Justin says he was vaping with a Juul e-cigarette when he stopped breathing and collapsed.
“Blue lips, purple face,“ Wilson said. “I think the biggest thing going through my head was, ‘Am I going to die?’ I felt like that’s where I was going.”
Luckily, Justin was with friends, and they called an ambulance, which rushed him to the hospital. But Justin says it took some time before doctors recognized what was wrong.
For the last month, Justin says he was having asthma attacks after vaping, something that never happened to him after smoking cigarettes.
Because Justin has battled asthma from a young age, doctors treated him for it, but Justin wasn’t improving.
“It was the most terrifying thing ever. I almost passed out when they came into that consult room and asked if I wanted a chaplain. I thought I was gonna faint,” said Jake Wilson, Justin’s dad.
For the next week, Justin says doctors treated him for liquid in his lungs, which he says came from the oil in his e-cigarette.
“I initially really liked the idea of helping people get off cigarettes and doing something that was supposedly safer,” said Justin. “But now, it feels like I’m gonna sell someone Juul pods and be like, ‘Hey, those put me in the hospital. Those almost took my life from me.’”
ICYMI @ 4: This is 25-year-old Justin. He was close to death after doctors confirm to @fox12oregon he was hospitalized for a week for vaping toxicity. His message for other people using e-cigarettes at 6:30. pic.twitter.com/shD9mZbaeC— Brenna Kelly (@BrennaKellyNews) September 10, 2019
Justin is out of the hospital now, and while he and his family don’t know what lies ahead, they know they’re not taking life for granted.
“We believe people when they tell us, ‘Hey, look. We created this safer thing, and it’s healthier and it’s better for you.’ And unfortunately, we just have to trust people,” said Jake. “And we do a lot, and hope that they’re right.”
“It’s something I shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, even. You know, having a nicotine addiction, but it definitely has humbled me,” said Justin.
Justin's family is looking for help, as he doesn't feel like he can return to work and is struggling to pay medical bills. If you'd like to help, here is a link to their Go Fund Me page.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.