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Parents: Our Daughter Nearly Died From Vaping

Piper Johnson’s plans to start college and move in to her dorm were quickly derailed when what she thought was a case of bronchitis turned into a near-death experience.

She and her parents left New Lenox, Illinois, heading for Colorado and college when Piper began coughing and complaining of pain trying to take a deep breath.

At an urgent care visit, doctors discovered Piper had what looked like “early pneumonia,” her mom, Ruby Johnson, said.

Piper was admitted to the hospital a doctor though she had developed a more severe “diffuse pneumonia,” all over her lungs.

She needed oxygen, IV fluids, antibiotics, pain medications, anti-nausea medicine and a diuretic to clear fluid from her lungs.

As Piper needed more and more oxygen she was transferred to the ICU.

“When you watch your 18 yo child who was healthy a week ago in a hospital bed in intense pain and needing more and more oxygen and being transferred to the intensive care unit and you have no idea what’s going to happen or how much worse it’s going to get, it’s terrifying,” her mother said.

Ruby said the doctors told her Piper had a “sudden and severe lung illness due to vaping.”

She said a doctor told her if they had waited one more day to take Piper in, she would have ended up unresponsive and on a ventilator.

Now her parents are sharing their story because they say they don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s child.

“It’s disgusting how these companies have designed these products,” Ruby said.

She believes that vaping is targeted toward teens but is more dangerous than tobacco.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarettes, including the popular Juul brand and others, have become the most used tobacco product among teenagers.

“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable. I’ll be clear. The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.”

In a June 2018 interview with CBS News, Juul’s chief administrative officer Ashley Gould insisted that the company never intentionally marketed to teens.

“Juul is a product for adult smokers. And they [teens] have adopted it,” Gould said.

“We need better legislation, stricter regulation and we desperately need education,” Ruby said.

Piper was released from the hospital after a one-week stay and is expected to make a full recovery. She is now attending classes at Northern Colorado University.

CBS Chicago