A 17-year-old high school student is speaking out against vaping after his habit led to a double lung transplant and nearly cost him his life.
Daniel Ament was a strong, athletic sophomore in Grosse Point, Michigan, when he began vaping on occasion with his friends.
The teen loved running, swimming and sailing and vowed to quit his vaping habit after summer break ended and he returned to school in the fall of 2019.
But days into the start of his junior year, Ament began experiencing troubling health symptoms, including difficulty breathing, back pain, lethargy and a high temperature.
The teen was hospitalized with what doctors at first thought was pneumonia, but in just a matter of days, Ament’s health declined to a point that he was drifting in and out of consciousness and was placed on life support.
Ament said he remembers nothing about the next 50 days of his life.
He was hooked up to an ECMO machine to allow his lungs a chance to rest, but it soon became obvious to his medical team that Ament needed a double lung transplant in order to survive.
“His case, to the best of my ability to remember, is the worst [lung damage] that I’ve seen,” Dr. Hassan Nemeh, a thoracic surgeon at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital told Time.
“We were against a wall. We had to transplant him or pull support. I truly don’t think he had a lot of time left,” Nemeh said.
Ament was very fortunate to be placed at the top of the transplant list.
According to Time, the 17-year-old became “the first person to receive a double lung transplant due to what doctors attribute to vaping-related damage.”
Nemeh recalled what the teen’s traumatized lungs looked like when he removed them during surgery.
“They were so scarred they didn’t even deflate,” Nemeh said. “It was definitely a different kind of damage than we usually see. This lung was literally solid, as if it was made out of truck-tire rubber.”
Writing about story on Fight4Wellness, a nonprofit organization Ament has recently started to prevent vaping, the teen wrote that his recovery has been “unimaginably hard.”
His life has forever changed, including his dream of someday joining the military.
“I had almost all A’s and had already completed an AP class. My ultimate goal was to become a Navy Seal,” Ament wrote.
Instead, Ament has decided to share his story with other teenagers and children in hopes they will understand they are not invincible and will choose to opt out of vaping.
Ament believed that because nobody around him experienced any noticeable consequences from vaping, he was not in danger — a belief that Ament thinks is common among teens.
“It would be more rare to find someone who doesn’t vape,” Ament said of his social circle. “Everyone was doing it and nothing bad was happening.”
Ament is determined to make the most out of his second chance and new set of lungs.
“It’s not going to be in vain,” Ament said. “I’m going to take good care of my body and use [these lungs] well.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.