IRVING, Texas - A 28-year-old man says four months of vaping nearly killed him.
Doctors say Christopher Machelski suffered the same kind of pulmonary illness as dozens of other vaping-related cases.
The CDC does not know the specific cause of these illnesses, but like Machelski, many patients reported vaping products with THC - the chemical in marijuana that gets you high.
What surprised him is how quickly his illness developed.
Machelski said he wasn't using one of the popular brand name devices or cartridges seen on billboards around town. He was buying the cartridges from someone he knew.
He said his decision to vape nearly cost him his life.
“That was the main thing that made me go to vaping. The stress relief, the oral fixation,” Machelski said.
Machelski is now out of the intensive care unit at Medical City Las Colinas, but is far from recovered.
“For the first couple of days, just swinging my legs off the bed, I'd get winded, lightheaded, coughing,” Machelski added.
The 28-year-old college student said he started vaping four months ago, and used cartridges he believed were filled with THC oil that he bought from a friend.
“The products I was purchasing are one’s people can make on their own,” Machelski said.
While attending a concert with his girlfriend back on September 7, Machelski said he was hitting the vape pretty frequently.
He said he felt light-headed, short of breath, and fatigued.
The next day, he went to an urgent care office, and was sent home with steroids and an inhaler.
Then he took a turn for the worse.
“I got up to use the restroom, and all I remember was waking up on the floor outside my room, passed out, yelling for help,” Machelski recalled.
That's what led him to Dr. Samer Fahoum, a pulmonologist on staff at Medical City Las Colinas.
Dr. Fahoum took one look at Machelski, who was in a wheelchair, and admitted him to the ICU.
“In my office, he was very weak, oxygen level was very low,” Dr. Fahoum said. “He mentioned to me that he was using two flavors for vaping, and that triggered me to think of vaping induced injury.”
Dr. Fahoum ran tests to make sure there were no other underlining medical conditions. The tests all came back negative.
With help from IV steroids, the lung inflammation is improving.
“His right lung is improving. Left lung, also still some haziness, but it's still improving,” Dr. Fahoum said.
This the first vaping-related illness diagnosed at Medical City Las Colinas. The hospital self-reported the case to Dallas County Health and Human Services.
The agency is tracking the number of lung disease cases where vaping is suspected, and that count is now up to 14 cases, with patients as young as 13 years old.
Machelski has some words of advice for other who vape.
“This is not worth it. Don't smoke. Don't vape,” he said.
Dr. Fahoum said Machelski could have died had he not ended up in his office when he did.
Machelski is hoping to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday, but said he'll require assistance from an oxygen tank for some time.