GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – The dangers of vaping have been pretty well chronicled.
Doctors said the lungs of the most badly damaged vapers look as though they’ve been subjected to mustard gas. Yet, the vaping habit persists.
A teen who needed a double lung transplant is now waging a battle against vaping because he knows the perils of it better than anyone.
Last fall, Daniel Ament, of Grosse Pointe, became the wrong kind of pioneer. A horrible reaction to vaping meant he needed a double-lung transplant. Because of that he said he now knows what he wants to do with the life that doctors were able to save.
“I try to forget sometimes but when you look back at pictures, you know, this week has been a reminder just looking back at the videos and pictures and seeing everything again,” he said.
Recounting the ordeal isn’t easy for his mother, Tammy Ament. It’s a little easier for Daniel Ament because he remembers almost nothing about the near-death experience that led him to being the nation’s first double lung transplant recipient due to vaping.
“I lost 50 days of my memory so ... It felt like, I just woke up. And, they were like, ‘Oh, you got a lung transplant.’ And, you’ve been in bed for 50 days at that point. So, I couldn’t move. Like, I literally ... My muscles. I couldn’t lift my arm more than this. I couldn’t sit up in bed on my own. I couldn’t stand up until like two weeks after that. So, it really felt like I wasn’t myself,” Daniel Ament said.
In ways, he never will be. The regimen of his new life is demanding. The medications, the rehabilitation, the cautions he’ll have to take forever to keep his body from rejecting the strange lungs now pumping oxygen into his blood.
Dr. Hassan Nemeh has seen plenty of lung damage over the years, but he said the damage in Daniel Ament from vaping was an evil he had never encountered before.
“If you have scaling things between zero and 10 being the worse, he was a 10,” Nemeh said.
But Daniel Ament survived. He’s thinner, weaker, but wiser. Now, the very thing that almost killed him is the new cause he wants his life to serve.
“A lot of people are still finding it real hard to quit and that’s why I’m trying to start this nonprofit. And, most of it is just trying to get my friends to stop. I just need to do something so it doesn’t happen to other people. Because, it was horrible, what I experienced,” Daniel Ament said. “I didn’t want to get addicted to it. And, I did hear some stuff about people getting breathing issues from it and I was a varsity athlete. So, I didn’t want to have that.”
The hope must be that the message will have more power coming from peers. The doctors can lay out their horrific X-rays, but it seems to have too little of an effect.
“That’s why I’m hoping with my nonprofit, since I’m a kid, I can reach people better because I’m coming from their point of view and I was exactly like them before all this happened,” Daniel Ament said.
While Daniel Ament is fighting the demand for vaping, the Michigan State House is considering what’s in the supply side. There are currently three bills being considered that taken together would ban vitamin-e acetate from vaping products. It’s a additive that researchers believe is at the heart of the most severe vaping lung injury cases.