An 18-year-old college student’s lung collapsed due to damage from the toxic chemicals in his mint Juul pods, he told DailyMail.com.
Chance Ammirata, a rising freshman at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, was at death’s door last week as a result of the device he thought was ‘safe.’
On average, Chance vaped about one Juul pod every two days – roughly the equivalent of 10 cigarettes-worth of nicotine a day.
The Food and Drug Administration does not cap nicotine content for cigarettes or vapes, contents of other chemicals vary from product to product and everyone’s tolerances vary for nicotine are different, so it’s not clear how much is too much.
It has recently announced plans to add more substances to its list of toxins e-cig and cigarette makers must be disclose, as well as to regulate nicotine content.
But these changes didn’t come soon enough to save Chance vaping far more than his young body could handle.
What he thought was just a strained muscle turned out to be devastating damage that required major surgery to repair to repair.
Now, Chance is blasting a warning against the trendy e-cigarettes to his social media as he begins the long road to recovery.
Harrowing photos from Chance Ammirata’s lung surgery show the hole (top right) and damage done to the 18-year-old’s collapsed left lung after a year of using a mint Juul
About a year-and-a-half ago, Chance first picked up a Juul.
He’s fit, young and would never have considered smoking cigarettes, but was confident that Juul was different.
Last Monday, Chance woke late, after spending the night trying to stay on his right side.
Laying on the left was painful, and he assumed that the discomfort and his unusual tiredness were just signs he was getting sick.
A friend convinced him to go bowling – Chance had the day off from his new job as a food runner and had just finished summer semester at FIU – that a fun activity would cheer him up.
But even just sitting in the hard plastic chairs was excruciating for Chance.
Chance started using Juul about a year-and-a-half ago, vaping about one pod every two days (left). At just 18, his nicotine and chemicals so badly damaged his left lung that it collapsed, leaving Chance in immense pain last week (right)
‘I remember she made me laugh and it felt like my chest was collapsing, like I was having a heart attack,’ Chance told DailyMail.com.
He told his friend they had to go to the hospital.
The teenager assumed he’d just pulled a muscle, but the pain kept getting worse over the course of five hours. At last, he was seen not by one, but a whole team of doctors.
‘Seven surgeons came in, and it’s scary when you see seven surgeons come in, you think thy’re going to tell you you have like five days to live,’ Chance recalled.
Quickly, they told Chance that his left lung had collapsed, but wasted no more time than that, rushing him to surgery to have a tube inserted into the lung to keep it inflated.
Chance’s head swam. He had felt just fine until that morning, never coughing, wheezing or struggling to breath.
Photos from the surgery to permanently reinflate Chance’s lungs show the black ‘dots’ of damage left by nicotine and chemicals (top) and the hole they at through his lung (bottom)
‘It was completely abrupt,’ he said.
‘When they did the actual major surgery to reinflate my lungs, the surgeon said, “whatever you’ve been smoking has been leaving these black dots on your lungs.”‘
The surgeons were able to repair the hole, but those ‘black dots’ will likely take years to heal – and they may never entirely disappear.
‘I’ve never smoked cigarettes – it’s the Juul,’ says Chance.
Juul and other vapes have promoted themselves as ‘safer’ alternatives to cigarette smoking. The company had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.
They may lack some of the carcinogenic chemicals that are byproducts of combustible tobacco, but evidence that they are not safe is mounting.
Juul pods contains high concentrations of nicotine which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have deemed so addictive that they fuel an ‘epidemic’ of youth vaping.
Chance has been in and out of the hospital for a week (left). Tuesday, he was set to have the breathing tube removed (right)
Research suggests the powerful stimulant e-liquids have equally bad cardiovascular effects as traditional cigarettes.
They also include chemicals like acetaldehyde,formaldehyde and acrolein, a substance used to kill weeds – among other toxic substances – which can poison, damage and injure the lungs.
And benzenes and diacetyl flavoring in the liquids have been linked to lung disease, while traces of heavy metals found in some vape juices can tear at fine lung tissue.
Chance has been vaping mint pods – the last flavored form that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the company to market.
A recent Yale University study found that the chemicals that give Juul pods their flavors combine when heated to create toxic chemicals that aren’t disclosed on their labels.
In the aftermath of that finding, US regulators are putting the pressure on the company to reveal more information about what exactly is in their addictive pods so their health effects and safety can be more thoroughly evaluated.
Last month, eight Wisconsin teenagers wound up hospitalized, with one clear habit in common: they all reported vaping.
A ninth in the same state slipped into a coma. He’d been vaping cannabis e-pods he’d bought online.
‘There’s such a stereotype that it’s safe and my whole reason [for speaking out] is to warn people that it’s not safe,’ Chance says.
Chance was only about 16 when he first started Juuling.
‘Everyone was doing it…and the problem was no one was saying they were addicted, just using it occasionally when they were stressed, so it was different from a cigarette,’ Chance says.
Now, he’s using social media to beg other teens and his nearly 6,000 followers to quit Juuling (left). He says over 100 people have messaged to tell them they’re done vaping for good (right)
‘Cigarettes are totally disgusting garbage, but when it came to Juul, [people thought], Juul is perfect, there are no health repercussions, nothing bad can happen.’
Chance is living proof that that simply isn’t true.
‘Juul is really manipulating it like it’s okay, and it’s not and there’s not enough evidence, but I feel like it’s my responsibility as a victim’ to let people know it isn’t safe, Chance says.
A rising freshman in college, he’s due to start studying entrepreneurial business on August 26 – if he’s well enough.
Tuesday, Chance was scheduled to have the tube removed from his chest, the next big step in his recovery.
He’s already missed seven out of his first 10 days at his new job at a local restaurant, where he hoped to make some cash to save up in order to move out of his parent’s house.
‘I wanted to get into cross country, because I love running, but the doctor said that’s definitely not an option,’ Chance said.
‘He said running occasionally is okay after a month or two of healing, but constant running is just not going to be on my agenda, and that really sucks, because I’m 18, and that really sucks to have that happen so young.’
Chance can’t fly for a month, at least, and he’ll never be able to SCUBA dive.
And, of course, he can never smoke or Juul again.
‘Even if they said I could smoke again, I would never pick up a Juul or anything that has smoke, I’m never going to pick up again,’ he says, and he’s urging others to do the same.
Already, he says over 100 people have responded to his Instagram stories and tweets, telling Chance he’s inspired them to throw out their Juuls.
‘If I can keep doing that, that’s what I’m going to do…I don’t want anyone else to end up in the hospital like this,’ he said from his bed and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
This content was originally published here.