DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A 17-year-old girl is in a hospital’s intensive care unit and having to use a ventilator to breathe.
Jennifer Audas said her daughter, Witney Livingston, has been at Children’s Medical Center for ten days now, and credits the doctors with saving her life.
“My daughter almost died. The ventilator was the best thing because she cannot breathe on her own. She was basically on life support,” Audas said.
Witney Livingston (Credit: Jennifer Audas)
Audas says for two years, her daughter vaped e-cigarettes — about three-to-four pods each week.
Livingston has a severe lung injury, and while Audas says doctors aren’t 100% sure vaping is to blame, Audas says she and her daughter are convinced it is.
Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang said the number of cases similar to Livingston’s is rising in Dallas County, from nine on Friday to 14 Tuesday.
“The age range for the 14 cases we have goes from 16 to 44. The median age is 19, so six of them have been 18 or under,” Huang said.
He said in six of the 14 cases, patients needed a ventilator.
On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Health Services said it’s investigating 29 reports of severe lung illness among young adults who say they’ve used e-cigarettes.
Nationally, the CDC is investigating 450 cases in 33 states.
Also, officials reported Tuesday that a sixth person has died, the latest in Kansas.
Audas said two weeks ago, she showed her daughter the story of 17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld — who also vaped — and who also was on a ventilator before he recovered at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
“She decided ‘Oh, I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to put this down. I’m not going to vape.’ And that night, she starting running a fever, so it was already too late for her,” Audas said.
The fever led to vomiting and a trip to the hospital, before ultimately transferring to Children’s.
Audas said she knew her daughter had vaped and thought e-cigarettes were a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. She doesn’t know how long Livingston will need a ventilator or how long her stay at the hospital will be, but she credits doctors there with saving her life.
Livingston’s mother is now sharing her story about almost losing her.
“The last conversation I had with her might be have been the last, and it’s very emotional and it’s very heart-wrenching to think about it,” Audas said.
She said if she and her daughter can help five people quit and save them after seeing her story, then it’s worth it.
Audas said her daughter doesn’t want to see this happen to others her age.
“She says ‘I’m never doing this again. I know this hurt my lungs. I did this to myself and I never want to do this again. I want to tell everyone I can not to do it. It’s not worth it,’” she said.