Utah Teen Will 'Never Touch a Vape Again' After Nearly Dying of Severe Lung Illness

The 18-year-old said she vaped a variety of e-cigarettes every day for three years

Maddie Nelson
Photo: GoFundMe

A Utah teen said she will ‘never touch a vape again’ after she nearly died of a severe lung illness that her doctors say is tied to her frequent vaping.

Maddie Nelson, 18, said she would vape with several types of e-cigarettes every day for three years, much like her high school classmates.

“I thought vaping was fine,” she told Fox 13. “I did all the tricks, all the time. I used all sorts of different products, like from all sorts of vape shops across Utah county.”

In July, the formally healthy Nelson started experiencing nausea, vomiting and chest pain. On July 27, she started having severe back and kidney pain and was running a high fever, and was admitted to the local hospital in Payson, her siblings wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help with her medical costs.

“It didn’t take long for her symptoms to worsen,” her siblings wrote. “Before we knew it she was struggling to breathe.”

Nelson said that she was barely conscious.

“My temperature was so high, my brain just totally shut off,” she told Fox 13. “I thought I was in the Payson hospital for one night, and I was actually there for four days.

Nelson was then transferred to another Utah hospital, where she continued to struggle to breathe. After x-rays showed that she had severe lung damage, her family elected to put her in a medically induced coma.

“We were scared we may never be able to talk to our sister again,” her siblings said on the GoFundMe page.

“My family seriously thought that I passed away, and when I found that out, it just made me so sad,” Nelson told Fox 13.

After running several tests, doctors determined that Nelson had acute eosinophilic pneumonia, a rare lung illness.

“I had fat particles growing inside my lungs that were related to the glycerin in vape juice,” she said. “My lungs were full of fluid and they said that my chest x-rays were some of the worst that they’d ever seen.”

The doctors told Nelson that it “was definitely from vaping.”

“When you inhale, the moisture is creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow inside your lungs and for infection to start,” she said.

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After a course of steroids, Nelson immediately started to improve and was brought back out of the coma three days later. She has spent the last few weeks recovering at home, but still needs to use an oxygen machine at night and experiences sudden chest pains.

Nelson said that the lack of research around vaping is making her recovery process tougher.

“It’s very scary because the doctors don’t know the long-term effects of this, so they don’t know what the healing process is even supposed to be like,” she said.

Nelson and her sibling said they want to raise awareness of the health risks of vaping. The Centers for Disease Control announced last week that they are investigating the nearly 200 reported cases of breathing problems related to vaping from across the country, which include one death in Illinois.

“After going through that, I would never touch a vape again,” Nelson said.

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