Mysterious vaping illnesses are causing life-threatening lung injuries and death. Here’s what we know about the people who have been affected so far.

ShutterstockSome users may be vaping things other than nicotine, like THC, complicating the investigation and leaving many unanswered questions.
  • As of September 17, there are been 530 total possible cases of vape-related lung illness, according to the CDC. Seven have resulted in death.
  • Both a lack of FDA regulation and the sheer number of different e-cigarettes and juices on the market have made it difficult for health experts to pinpoint the cause of each of the lung illnesses.
  • The FDA and CDC announced they are investigating these products in light of the lung problems to which they have been linked.
  • Here’s what we know about some of the people who’ve been affected so far.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more.

Since e-cigarettes’ mainstream inception, advocates have touted the devices as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. But now, as hospitalizations and deaths linked to the devices mount across the United States, health experts and consumers alike are concerned about their dangers.

As of September 17, there are been 530 total possible cases of vape-related lung illness, according to the CDC. Seven have resulted in death.

Both a lack of FDA regulation and the sheer number of different e-cigarettes and juices on the market have made it difficult for health experts to pinpoint the cause of each of the lung illnesses, or see if a common cause links all of the cases.

Additionally, some users may be vaping things other than nicotine, like THC, complicating the investigation and leaving many unanswered questions. The FDA and CDC announced they are investigating these products in light of the lung problems to which they have been linked.

“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

Here’s what we know so far about the people who have been hospitalized or have died from a vaping-related lung illness.


An unnamed Wisconsin man bought THC vape vials off the street and was later put into a medically induced coma after using them.

ArisSu/iStock‘He was not breathing on his own at all yesterday. His heart was weak. They weren’t sure he was going to make it,’ his brother said.

In July, Patrick DeGrave’s 26-year-old brother, who was not publicly named, was hospitalized for being in critical condition after vaping THC, according to Fox 6 Now.

“He was not breathing on his own at all yesterday. His heart was weak. They weren’t sure he was going to make it,” DeGrave said.

DeGrave also said his brother had bought the THC-containing cartridge off the street in Wisconsin, a sign it may have been tampered with.


Maddie Nelson, a Utah-based 18-year-old, was hospitalized after vaping and shared her story on Facebook.

REUTERS/David BeckerThe flavours of vaping liquids are one of the top two reasons young people told Reuters they begin using e-cigs.

Nelson vaped every day for three years, according to Cosmpolitan. On July 27, she had severe back and kidney pain, so she was admitted to the hospital and later put in a medically induced coma.

Doctors later diagnosed her with acute eosinophilic pneumonia, a condition where white blood cells build up in the lungs, according to the National Organisation for Rare Disorders. Symptoms include fatigue, cough, trouble breathing, and weight loss.

Nelson is now out of her coma and on the road to recovery. She’s also been outspoken about her life-threatening vaping experience on Facebook and is warning others against using the devices.


20-year-old Alexander Mitchell from Utah almost died after developing lipoid pneumonia from vaping.

Getty ImagesMitchell, not pictured, said he vaped every day.

A person can get lipoid pneumonia if fat or oil gets into the lungs, and nicotine-containing vape juices used to power the devices often have some kind of oil, likely causing the scary reaction.

According to Mitchell, “everything started going downhill” the day after he bought a bottle of vape juice to use for his daily vape habit. His symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain eventually escalated and he developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, where fluid collects in the lungs and stops the proper flow of oxygen.

Due to Mitchell’s status, he was put on life support, but he is now back home and doing ok.

“I’m at 25% diminished lung capacity now,” Mitchell told KUTV. “Vaping’s promoted as a safer alternative when, in reality, it’s not.”

Mitchell’s doctors said it could take one to four years for his lungs to return to their full capacity.


31-year-old Sean Bills of Utah is also in a medically induced coma after vaping.

ReutersA coma patient (not Bills) has his brain parameters stimulated with flash lights to understand when he is ready to be stimulated.

Bills’ wife Tiffani told Fox 13 Salt Lake City that doctors believe vaping caused his illness, which like Mitchell, was diagnosed as lipoid pneumonia.

The days prior to Bills’ hospitalisation, his wife said he started feeling shortness of breath, which was strange because he was otherwise healthy.

Following Bills’ life-threatening experience, Tiffani too has sworn off vaping.

“Stop,” Tiffani told Fox 13. “Stop right now before it gets worse. I mean, it’s not worth your life.”


Pennsylvania teen Kevin Boclair has been hospitalized for three weeks due to a vaping-related lung illness.

Frank Augstein/APBoclair, not pictured, is now on life support.

On August 3, the parents of 19-year-old Kevin Boclair told CBS 3 Philly that their son was put in a medically induced coma three weeks ago. They believe the teen’s vaping habit caused him irreparable lung damage and put him on life support.

“The doctors are saying the chemicals in the vape actually changes the tissue of the lungs and it gets damaged, and that damaged part actually scars up and it never gets better,” the patient’s mum, Deborah Boclair, a nurse, told CBS 3.


On August 23, an unnamed person in Illinois died from a severe respiratory illness.

Flickr/Vaping360Illinois officials asked the CDC to help them investigate the cases.

Although little information exists on the person who died following a vape-related lung illness, officials noted that a total of 22 cases of vape-related lung injuries had been reported in the state.


18-year-old Simah Herman said she started having severe nausea two years ago and was recently placed on life support because of her lung injury.

Herman, a Long Beach, New York, resident gained attention after sharing an Instagram post from her hospital bed. The post shows her holding a sign that says “I want to start a no vaping campaign,” while she has a breathing tube down her throat, the Daily Mail reported.

In addition to the nausea Herman started having two years ago, she also started experiencing problems eating and sleeping. In 48 hours’ time she ended up going into respiratory failure from vaping, which landed her in the hospital and on life support.

“It took less than 48 hours for me to be put in a drug induced coma and a tube put down my throat because I could no longer breathe on my own. The dangers of vaping are real and this can happen to you. Please don’t let it,” Herman wrote in her Instagram post.


The Indiana State Department of Health confirmed yet another vaping-related death on September 6.

AP Photo/Molly RileyThe unnamed individual was older than 18, officials said.

Officials said the death was confirmed on September 5 and happened to a person who was over 18 years old and has a “history of e-cigarette use.”

“The tragic loss of a Hoosier and rising number of vaping-related injuries are warnings that we cannot ignore,” State Health Commissioner Kris Box said in a statement. “We know that these products typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and many cases report inhaling THC and other substances not available in commercial products. “

The state of Indiana is investigating 30 vape-related illness cases, according to a press release. Most of these cases occurred in people between the ages of 16 and 29.


On September 6, Minnesota officials reported a 65-year-old with a history of lung disease died. His lung injuries were linked to vaping THC products.

Sapol Chairatkaewcharoen/ShutterstockThe man was in the hospital for a long, although undisclosed, amount of time and had various health complications.

According to officials, the man was in the hospital for some time because of his lung problems and eventually developed other health problems, which were undisclosed.

In a press release Minnesota State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said that the man’s lung injuries were linked to his use of an illegal THC-containing vape pen.

In Minnesota, there are 17 total reported vape-related lung illness cases.


An 18-year-old needed surgery for a blistered and collapsed lung after using a marijuana vape.

nimon/ShutterstockHe said he bought the THC vape at a rock concert pop-up.

Junaid Khan, a heart and lung surgeon in Oakland, California, who treated the teen, said he can’t definitely say the injury is vaping-related, but it appears to be.

“It could be something else, but there’s definitely an association,” Khan previously told Insider.

The teen came to Khan for treatment of a blistered lung, but after examining the teen, Khan found his lung was also collapsed. The scary condition happens when air leaks into the space between the chest wall and the lung, making it hard to breathe, and can occur when a blister on the lung pops.

“He actually needed surgery to relieve that air, to allow the lung to expand, and subsequently the blister had to be taken out surgically,” Khan said.


Los Angeles officials reported the first California vaping-related death on September 6.

Matt LangThe Los Angeles, California, death is one of five known deaths related to vaping lung illnesses.

The unnamed person who died was over 55 years old and had other health problems in addition to vaping-related ones, health officials said.

“Today we’re issuing a warning to all residents about the use of these devices as potentially harmful to proper lung function,” Los Angeles county public health director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference on Friday. “Stop vaping now.”


In early September, an Oregon man’s vaping-related death became the first linked to a legal pot shop.

Spencer Platt/GettyOfficials didn’t specify what components of cannabis were in the liquid.

Officials said the unnamed person died in July and had recently used a cannabis-containing cartridge he had purchased from a dispensary, as marijuana is recreationally legal in Oregon. Officials didn’t specify what components of cannabis were in the liquid.

“We don’t yet know the exact cause of these illnesses – whether they’re caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself,” Dr. Ann Thomas, a public health physician at Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, said in a press release.

This is a developing story. Check back for the latest.

If you’ve experienced a vaping-related injury and would like to tell your story, contact Julia Naftulin at [email protected]

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