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August 22, 2019

Fort Worth Teen’s Testimony on E-Cigarette Dangers Moves Nation to Action

A teen from Fort Worth, TX reports his use of e-cigarettes caused his lungs to fail, leading to his 18-day hospitalization. 17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld shared the details of his story with WFAA to warn the public about the dangers of e-cigarette use.

“I really wish I had the knowledge that I do now,” Zohfeld told WFAA.

Zohfeld was hospitalized for over two weeks at Cook Children’s Hospital after an X-ray revealed a blockage in the teen’s lungs. Zohfeld reported side effects including chills, heightened rate, lethargy, and vomiting.

“I woke up just throwing up everywhere, and my heart was beating out of my chest going 100 miles an hour,” Zohfeld said.

Doctors were baffled at the time, running a long series of tests to rule out possibilities for Zohfeld’s condition. Dr. Karen Schultz, a pediatrics and pulmonology specialist, said the tests did not give much insight into Zohfeld’s lung failure.

“None of them came back positive,” Dr. Schultz said about the tests doctors ran.

The reason behind the recent graduate’s illness became clear when Zohfeld’s cousin came forward and reported he and Zohfeld had been secretly vaping e-cigarettes since the 8th grade. Sometimes, the teen would vape two to three vape pods a week, with some pods reportedly equivalating the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes.

Dr. Schultz believes the chemicals in the vape pods Zohfeld was inhaling caused inflammation in his lungs, inflaming them to the point they could not exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.

“His pattern of using them brought to light that that was the likely cause,” Schultz said. “Plus all the other chemicals that we don’t know what they do to your lungs.”.

US Vaping Epidemic

Zohfeld’s testimony has triggered national conversation about the severe risks of vaping. His story has made headlines across the United States, drawing comments shares on social media platforms from e-cigarette users. Zohfeld, himself, expressed his concern about the unknown dangers of vaping, especially the long-term impact on users’ health and what complications may arise in the future from vaping.

In 2018 over 3.6 million American youth currently use e-cigarettes, with 1 in 5 high school students vaping and 11 in 20 middle school students using e-cigarettes. The dangers of vaping have become so widespread in the US that the Surgeon General released an official warning on the dangers of youth vaping, indicating the harmful chemicals in vape aerosol expose users and others to unstable organic compounds, heavy metals, and particles that can be inhaled deeply into users’ lungs.

As of August, over 50 people across the nation have been hospitalized with vaping-related breathing illnesses this year. The sudden outbreak in vaping-related breathing illnesses has instigated the FDA to issue a multi-state investigation to find a common device, pod, or chemical behind the vaping-injuries. The CDC has launched advertising campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of minors vaping e-cigarettes, cautioning teens to know the facts before vaping.

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