Teen: 'I fully thought I was going to die' after vaping-related medical emergency
Following another suspected case of vaping-related illness in Quebec, health officials are warning users to seek medical attention should they experience pulmonary discomfort.
Olivia Guerra tweeted a photo of an alleged user of the product JUUL suffering a medical emergency. The graphic photo shows a teen bleeding in a washroom. The teen was Caroline Asimakos; an 18-year-old student in New Brunswick who is best friends with Guerra’s cousin.
“I didn't want this problem to happen to other people,” said Guerra who does not smoke or vape. “It makes me feel sick because with cigarettes before, people then had no idea what was going to happen it took years for them to find out what was going to happen.”
Guerra spread the image in a tweet; which has since been liked more than 80,000 times and retweeted by another 60,000 users. “The hospital's trying to contact her now ever since they saw the tweet,” said Guerra.
Asimakos, who made two prior trips to the hospital after experiencing persistent coughing and trouble sleeping, was told by doctors she likely had a viral infection after x-rays failed to show anything conclusive.
“I couldn’t breathe at all. I fully thought I was going to die. It was terrifying,” said Asimakos. “I was in the middle of class and had two massive coughs and I could just feel blood coming up my throat.”
Asimakos snapped the picture showing blood everywhere, the teen shared the photo with friends to show them what she calls the negative, potentially deadly side-effects to vaping.
JUUL's website claims the product is “the alternative for adult smokers: designed for smokers, by smokers.” The product, about the size of a USB stick, contains what the company calls “an intelligent heating mechanism that creates an aerosol and is engineered to minimize combustion.” JUUL adds the product is rechargeable via a USB port.
Guerra, who said the tweet has received mostly positive comments, has seen some users of vaping products defend their use by brushing off the after-effects.
“They're saying it's just her or it's just a one-off," said Guerra.
In a release, Health Canada warns of potential risk of pulmonary illness associated with vaping products.
"In the wake of the recent cases of severe pulmonary illnesses and a number of deaths reportedly linked to the use of vaping products in the United States, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada provided national guidance to the provinces and territories on identifying cases of severe pulmonary illness related to vaping or e-cigarette use in Canada."
The medical warning added, "the Province of Quebec has notified the Public Health Agency of Canada of a confirmed case of severe pulmonary illness related to vaping products. This is the first confirmed case in Canada. This follows the report out of the Middlesex-London Health Unit in Ontario of another possible case. At this time, the Middlesex-London incident is not considered confirmed as it is still under investigation and has not been officially reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada by the Province of Ontario."
Those in the industry selling the fruit-flavoured products said they still don’t have concrete evidence to link the use of vaping products and accessories to pulmonary illnesses.
Peter Asimakos said he’s seen what the products have done to his daughter and fears if they continue to be marketed to young adults, lives are at risk.
“These kids cannot have access to these products as easy as they do and they shouldn’t have access at all,” said Asimakos from his home in New Brunswick. “If this is intended to make adults get off tobacco cigarettes, then they should be sold in drug stores behind the counter.”
His daughter said while she may not be of legal age to use the product, “it's easy to get them, if you have money you can ask people to get them.”
Asimakos said she is recovering and has tossed her JUUL in the trash.
“I will never smoke anything again, I’m done.”