The nationwide death toll in the growing lung illness epidemic related to vaping has risen to at least 11.
Health officials in Florida and Georgia reported the states’ first deaths on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the leader in the vaping market is experiencing a major shakeup.
Juul’s CEO has stepped down and the company announced it will stop advertising e-cigarettes.
An e-cigarette smoker who is being treated in Fort Worth is sharing his story as he recovers from an illness that doctors believe was caused by vaping.
The 35-year old father of three has been hospitalized at Baylor All Saints for nearly two weeks.
At one point, he was on life support, and his doctor believes his condition may be linked to vaping.
“Vaping, under any circumstances, is not worth the risk,” Blake Keith said.
Keith has been vaping for 10 years, and smoking for more than 20, but his recent brush with death has him stopping those longtime habits altogether.
Keith started having flu-like symptoms on September 6, which quickly got worse after he went to the ER in Granbury.
“I was throwing up blood, I couldn’t breathe,” he recalled.
Doctors rushed him to the ICU, where his wife Kristina said he was put on life support and went into septic shock.
His lungs were failing and the pneumonia he developed was getting worse.
“And they said, ‘We don’t know if he’s going to make it. You need to call all your family right now,” Kristina Keith said.
Keith was airlifted to Baylor All Saints in Fort Worth, where doctors were alarmed at his condition, given how young he is.
“When we got the history and everything else, we found that he was using vaping and he has been sick not a very long time,” Dr. Jamil Abbasi recalled. “That was the scary part of it, that it’s not a gradual thing. It came all of a sudden and then they’re that sick.”
Keith is one of three patients that Baylor All Saints doctors have seen over the last few weeks with lung illnesses believed to be connected to vaping.
Health experts have not tied the recent outbreak to any specific product or type of e-cigarette, but the mounting pressure on the industry is taking a toll.
One of the biggest names in the business, Juul, is halting all of its ads in the U.S. and the company’s CEO has stepped down.
The company also said it will not oppose a Trump administration plan to pull flavored e-cigarettes off the market until there’s FDA approval.
For Keith, who was on a ventilator, but eventually made a turnaround, the message is clear.
“I hope other people see how serious it is. Vaping is not worth losing your life. I have three kids and one on the way. I almost had four kids on this earth without a daddy, and that’s unacceptable,” he said.
In Dallas County, health officials say 30 people have been hospitalized with severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes.
Half of those cases involved young people under the age of 21.