Michigan teen who needed double lung transplant finally admits he vaped marijuana — but the media is still clouding the issue

click to enlarge Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital performed a double-lung transplant on a Michigan teen after he sustained injuries from vaping, but won't say what he was vaping. - Henry Ford Health System
Henry Ford Health System
Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital performed a double-lung transplant on a Michigan teen after he sustained injuries from vaping, but won't say what he was vaping.

Last year, doctors at Henry Ford Hospital performed a rare double lung transplant — the first in the U.S. — on a Michigan boy who officials said damaged his lungs by vaping. Confusingly, they would not say what exactly he vaped, which would, you know, be helpful information for a frightened public.

It's part of an epidemic we've noticed where the mainstream media has been routinely conflating vaping nicotine and vaping marijuana — and in the process, making it seem like all vaping is equally dangerous. It's been driving us crazy over here at the Metro Times office to the point where we ran a cover story about how officials were clouding the issue by not being specific. The leading research points to vitamin E acetate, a substance used to dilute marijuana oil, as the main culprit of a nationwide sickness that has killed nearly 60 people and hospitalized 2,602.

Well, now we know for certain what we long suspected: in an exclusive interview with WDIV's Devin Scillian, the double lung transplant patient, teenager Daniel Ament from Grosse Pointe, finally admitted he vaped marijuana.

Of course, WDIV handled this revelation in the most confusing way possible.

Throughout most of the nearly seven-minute segment, Scillian, Ament, and his mother say only that Ament was sickened because of "vaping." While he was sick, Ament initially refused to even admit to his mother or doctors that he was vaping. But finally, he came clean.

"There’s no more hiding from it," Scillian says in a voiceover. "Daniel is now saying yes — yes, he vaped. Yes, he vaped nicotine. Yes, he vaped THC. And yes, it very nearly killed him."

The three letters "THC" are the only mention of vaping marijuana in the segment — a reference to Tetrahydrocannabinol, or the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes you high. Not exactly a household term, and certainly, we think, not to the evening TV news set.

Even more confusingly, WDIV ended the segment by pointing to its "Dangers of vaping: A resource guide for parents." But the guide makes no reference to the dangers of vaping marijuana. It only cites a link between nicotine e-cigarette use and chronic lung disease, while also citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's number of reported cases of vaping-related illness — cases that the CDC has linked to vitamin E acetate, and not nicotine. (Editor's note: WDIV updated its guide to include information about vitamin E acetate after we brought it to their attention.)

We still don't know what THC the teen was vaping, however. Since he was a minor, it's likely it was black-market marijuana. But we just don't know.

Vitamin E acetate has been primarily used in the black market, but a number of legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan have been caught selling vaping cartridges tainted with the stuff. Michigan officially required marijuana stores to test for vitamin E acetate in November.

Part of the confusion can be traced to bad timing. Last year, as the rash of vitamin E acetate vaping-related illnesses were first being reported, officials like Michigan's Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and President Donald Trump called for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, citing a rise in teen vaping — and causing the public to conflate the two issues.

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in Hour Detroit, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged...
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