A Missouri man who went into lung failure after vaping for 10 years has survived — thanks to a temporary pair of double-D breast implants.
Davey Bauer, 34, switched from smoking to vaping in 2014 because he thought it was ‘the healthier alternative’, but later ‘found it more addicting than cigarettes.’
His lungs gave out in April, which doctors blamed on his cartridge-a-day habit, after he caught the flu and an antibiotic-resistant additional lung infection.
Mr Bauer’s lungs were so severely damaged that doctors in St Louis determined his best hope was a double lung transplant.
He was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he soon suffered a cardiac arrest due to the infection.
Mr Bauer’s surgeon, Dr Ankit Bharat, director of the Canning Thoracic Institute at Northwestern, said that by that point, his patient didn’t have time for a transplant.
As a ‘last ditch effort,’ the team removed Mr Bauer’s lungs and outfitted him with a temporary pair of double-D breast implants to keep his heart in place.
Davey Bauer, 34, started feeling like he couldn’t catch his breath in April. He had caught the flu after vaping for 10 years, which caused his lungs to rapidly deteriorate
Mr Bauer went into lung failure and could not wait long enough for a donor pair of lungs. Doctors gave him temporary breast implants to hold his heart in place and keep blood flowing while he awaited a transplant
‘Someone who is actively dying and was so sick like David, generally, will have no option of transplant, and they generally just die,’ Dr Bharat told CNN. ‘We had to come up with a strategy to do something that we’ve never done before.’
This was because while they waited for the infection to clear and a pair of donor lungs to come in, Dr Bharat’s team had to figure out how to keep blood flowing.
The heart and lungs work together, as the circulatory system, which is made up of the heart and blood vessels, brings blood to the lungs.
Without a pair of lungs, there’s no path for blood to travel through.
The team created artificial channels with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which pumps blood outside of the body, sends it through devices that remove oxygen and carbon dioxide, and pumps it back into the body.
However, to move blood through Mr Bauer’s body, doctors had to figure out how to keep the heart in place.
The breast implants managed to keep the heart from moving until a pair of donor lungs became available the next day.
Mr Bauer’s breast implants were then replaced with a new set of lungs.
Dr Bharat said that Mr Bauer is ‘on track for full recovery.’ By June, he was able to fully breathe on his own with the new lungs, according to his GoFundMe page.
Mr Bauer is on track for a full recovery and will stay in a rehab facility in Chicago for at least the next 18 months
He has since been transferred to a rehab facility in Chicago, where he and his girlfriend, Susan, will stay for the next 18 months.
Mr Bauer had switched from vaping to cigarettes because he thought it was healthier but later ‘found it more addicting than cigarettes,’ he told CNN. He was smoking one cartridge a day, which is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes in terms of nicotine content.
‘In my personal opinion, vaping played a big part in how sick Davey got because he’s young and healthy otherwise,’ Dr Bharat said
‘Lungs are designed to breathe clean air. They’re not designed to inhale smoke.’
While e-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than normal cigarettes, increasingly, the evidence shows that vaping is still extremely harmful.
Earlier this year, the American Heart Association (AHA) warned that the cocktail of nicotine, thickeners, solvents, and flavors in vape devices poses greater risks to heart health than smoking cigarettes.
Long-term exposure to diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, two flavoring additives, has been linked to shortness of breath, chronic cough, asthma, and obstructed airways.
Experts have also warned against secondhand vaping.
Scientists from universities in Virginia and North Carolina reported that when e-cigarette users puffed in their cars for less than 10 minutes, the air around them became laden with possibly poisonous particulate matter known specifically as PM2.5 (denoting a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller).
PM2.5 can be generated from natural and human-engineered sources such as the burning of fossil fuels. When inhaled, the matter penetrates the lungs and irritates the entire respiratory system, possibly causing or worsening asthma, bronchitis, and heavy wheezing.
The matter is small enough that it could enter the bloodstream, which can lead to system-wide inflammation that raises the risk to cardiovascular health.
Vapes that don’t have nicotine can also lead to ‘e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury,’ or EVALI.
The exact cause of the injury still isn’t completely clear, but researchers have since zeroed in on the compound Vitamin E Acetate, which is often used as a thickening agent in illegal cannabis vape devices.
There is no test to determine if someone has EVALI, so diagnosis is based on symptoms, which include shortness of breath, fever, chills, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and chest pain, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).
EVALI has caused some harrowing health scares. A 34-year-old woman from Ohio, who was going through around eight cartridges of vape fluid each week, the equivalent of 50 cigarettes a day, found herself on life support within 24 hours of going to urgent care for trouble breathing.
In another terrifying case, a 20-year-old woman from the UK named Abby Flynn developed a rare lung condition, dubbed ‘popcorn lung’, which doctors warned could have left her reliant on an oxygen machine before she turned 30.
Federal data suggests that about 14 percent – over 2.5 million – of American youth from 6th through 12th grades vape, while another study reported 17million American adults vape. That compares to just one in 10 tobacco smokers.