An Amarillo man is in the hospital tonight, thankful to be alive from what he says was a near-death experience, caused by vaping. This epidemic of vape-related illnesses has increased to over 500 hundred cases nationwide. 11 people have died.
This has all led the white house to begin developing a policy that would ban flavored-vaping products entirely. Not everyone agrees.
Benjamin Camarillo says he went to urgent care because he thought he has pneumonia. He couldn't breathe on his own and says he felt like something "was sitting on top," of his chest. Hours after arriving, he collapsed. Doctors ran a CT scan that revealed his lungs were clogged.
" I, immediately, knew what it was. I knew it was from vaping,". Camarillo has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and vapes both THC and flavored products to help him get through the day. Every time there was a new product, Camarillo says he would purchase them "and try to use them as discreetly as possible,". Camarillo thought to buy vaping products was safe, but now says it has been poisoning his body.
Cases like these have made the government consider banning all flavored-vaping products.
"They're blaming the wrong culprit," says Chris Goodwin
Goodwin is the owner of 806Vapes. He says there are several ways and products to vape. "E-Cigarettes are one way to vape. That's nicotine-containing products, which are sold here at 806vapes," he says. Consumers are also vaping cannabis oil out of a THC cartridge. Goodwin says the "cannabis vape," includes Vitamin E Acetate, which is used to thin out the oil enough to be vaporized.
Goodwin believes this is what is causing the lung-illness, not flavored nicotine. The Vitamin E acetate is a fat, and when you vaporize it, Goodwin says it sticks to the lungs.
The pulmonologists and intensivist for BSA Diagnostics, Mark Sigler, M.D., says the city of Amarillo has seen several cases that may be associated with vaping, but none have been confirmed. The epidemic is rapidly changing, and officials have no diagnostic test to determine what the illness is caused by.
Sigler says it has been difficult to regulate what products should and should not be permitted to vape because officials don't know what is in them. He says "sometimes they're related to THC, which is probably the most likely compound they're related to, similar to marijuana. CBD oils are another suspect of what the cause of this illness might be,".
Creating new policies that prohibit certain products from vaping devices, Sigler says " shouldn't be limited only to just flavored-vaping nicotine products," .
There is no set treatment for these mysterious lung illnesses because Sigler says the epidemic is still developing.
Benjamin Camarillo is currently asking residents for donations on his Facebook Fundraising page. He says, he has insurance to cover medical bills but needs help with expenses at home.