Vape took his lungs, now he’s teaching others to quit

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates in fall 2020, youth e-cigarette use has increased dramatically since 2011, and 3.6 million youth still currently use e-cigarettes. Advocacy groups work to drop the use rate amongst teens and young adults with real stories from vaping victims.

Professor Tommy Lowrance at McLennan Community College in Waco shares his near-death experience with vaping to young people, “my lungs are forever scarred, and they are scarred because of something I inhaled.” CBS4 and Lowrance spoke via zoom on New Year’s Eve his hope is to stop others from vaping.

In 2015 he used vaping to kick his cigarette habit of 20 years. The plan to use one instead of the other backfired. Around Thanksgiving 2015, his health took a dramatic turn, “all I did was vape and at some point, near the end of December my lungs shut down completely. It was very sudden and when it hit, it hit.”

Doctors misdiagnosed his failing lungs as bronchitis and pneumonia. A biopsy discovered his lungs were working at 22 percent, “it’s hard to say with 100 percent certainty but they do feel very strongly it was something I inhaled and the only thing that I had been inhaling was the vaping liquid.” Lowrance said.

Five years since his biopsy, he’s managed to keep lung function at 22 percent any lower and a lung transplant will be needed to save his life. “Everywhere I go this hose goes with me,” The hose is connected to oxygen tanks.

The pandemic has been especially hard for the husband and father. He sees a walk out the door as a death sentence, “I haven’t had a hug since March. I don’t go eat at a restaurant. I don’t go out. I don’t go to movies. I don’t go anywhere, and I can’t because we had his perpetual fear knowing that if I catch COVID I won’t survive. It is just an impossibility.”

If you or someone you know needs help contact Behavioral Health Solutions’ Tobacco Prevention & Control Coalition.

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