The family of Jackson Allard, 22, said he “had no idea how bad” vaping was for him
Jackson Allard began vaping when he was about 16 years old, more heavily in recent years
The 22-year-old North Dakota resident was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a potentially life-threatening condition where fluid builds up in the lungs
After 70 days on life support, he received a double lung transplant
A 22-year-old man is sending a warning about vaping after he spent 70 days on life support in need of a double lung transplant.
In October 2023, Jackson Allard went to the emergency room for a stomach ache. Staff noticed that the North Dakota resident had low oxygen levels and he was quickly admitted to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with parainfluenza that spiraled into pneumonia.
Allard was later diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a potentially life-threatening condition where fluid builds up in the lungs and could require treatment in an intensive care unit.
“When they did X-rays, you couldn’t even see his heart. It was all white. So that means the whole lung was full of fluid,” Doreen Hurlburt, Allard’s grandmother, told NBC News.
She explained that her grandson has vaped heavily since he was about 16 years old. The family and Allard’s doctors believe the habit may have made his illness worse.
“He had no idea how bad it was for him,” Hurlburt said. “The day before he was intubated, he said, ‘I had no idea I could get this sick.’”
Dr. Brian Keller, medical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Lung Transplantation Program, told the outlet that several compounds in e-cigarettes can damage the blood vessels and cells that line the lungs.
“This includes the nicotine itself, but also the burning of a carrier fluid like propylene glycol or glycerol, as well as the flavoring that a lot of people add to their vaping device,” he explained.
Allard’s condition ultimately deteriorated and he was put on life support and transferred to M Health Fairview at the University of Minnesota in need of a transplant. “As he was not getting better, they’re like, ‘Well, he vaped and vaping hurts your lungs,’”Hurlburt added.
Allard was on life support for 70 days, the family said on a GoFundMe page created for his recovery journey. During that time, he suffered from blood clots and even went into cardiac arrest.
“In several family meetings the [Surgical Intensive Care Unit] team said there was a 1% chance of survival,” Allard's mother, Jaime Foertsch, told the outlet. “We never gave up and kept advocating for Jackson.”
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However, Allard began making progress toward the end of December and he was able to qualify for a transplant.
On New Year’s Eve, Foertsch learned that doctors would be receiving new lungs and he had the transplant the following day. Allard remains on a ventilator in the ICU, however, his mother said he’s able to get out of bed and walk short distances with a walker.
“The nurses are calling him a legend and a miracle,” Foertsch told NBC. “He is getting stronger every day and hopes he will be moved to rehab soon.”
Allard’s grandmother told Valley News Live that the 22-year-old will require checkups for the next six months. Additionally, he can never drink alcohol or smoke again and he’ll require another transplant in the future.
Hurlburt added that Allard is sending a warning about those who are vaping.
“He said he just wants to make sure other people don’t do what he did, vape, and end up having to go through what he went through,” she said.
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