A North Carolina woman who quit smoking because she thought vaping was a healthier option has died after her lungs were “shut down.”
Amanda Lee Hall, 44, of the eastern state city of Sanford, used to smoke half a pack of Marlboros a day, but started using e-cigarettes in 2014 amid fears for her health.
She switched to vaping, but puffed on the device so much that her wife Kristen Hensley joked that a “fruity cloud” followed her wherever she went.
But things went wrong in the fall of 2019 when the warehouse worker had trouble breathing and fell into a coma. When she awoke, she found herself struggling to use her hands and with a paralyzed larynx. She died a year and a half later.
Many Americans consider vaping safe, but there is some evidence that e-cigarettes also cause serious damage to the lungs and heart, similar to traditional tobacco products.
Ms. Hall pictured with her vape in a restaurant. The vape is clutched in her right hand
Mrs Hall’s widow said she was constantly puffing on her vape. It was so much that she even joked that there was a “fruity cloud” chasing her. Ms. Hall is shown above vaping in the hospital
Mrs. Hall is pictured above in hospital receiving help with her lungs. Doctors said the initial damage was likely caused by the fumes
Mrs Hall’s widow said: ‘If you know anyone who vapes please ask them to stop. I don’t want anyone to go through what Amanda went through.
“It’s not just the vapes that contain THC or those bought on the black market… It’s also the regular flavored vapes and those with nicotine that also cause the vaping disease.”
She added, “It kills people. I’ve heard several people say they thought the vaping warnings were just propaganda by the tobacco companies to get people back to smoking. This is not true.’
Vapes have exploded in popularity in the US, with an estimated 8.1 million Americans now puffing on the devices every week, if not every day.
This includes more than 3 million children in middle and high school, who have been taken in by brands that offer fruity flavors.
Studies have suggested that they give users the same risk of heart problems and do not help people quit smoking.
Mrs. Hall started smoking cigarettes when she was only 14 years old and continued for 22 years.
At the peak of her addiction, she smoked about 10 Marlboro Lights a day. But she decided to switch to vaping in 2014 after her lifelong smoking father had a terminal lung disease.
Amanda Lee Hall (right), 44, of Sanford, North Carolina, pictured with her wife Kristen Hensley and their dog. She quit smoking cigarettes in 2014 and started vaping out of concern for her health
After five years of vaping, Ms Hall was rushed to hospital with lung damage her widow said had been caused by the devices. She is pictured above in hospital
Mrs. Hall started using vapes and was especially fond of fruity flavours.
Her widow, Ms Hensley, told DailyMail.com: ‘Almost every picture had her vape pen somewhere. She vaped nonstop.
“I joked that she carried a fruity cloud everywhere she went. She would take it to the movies or wherever.
“When I complained, she said it was just vapor and she just got some low doses of nicotine that helped calm her nerves.”
Ms Hall vaped constantly for five years before she started having trouble breathing in September 2019.
She was taken to the doctors and diagnosed with bronchitis and given antibiotics.
But the next day – when the breathing problems continued – she was rushed to the ER. Tests showed her blood oxygen level was 65, compared to a normal range for humans of 95 to 100.
Doctors put her in an induced coma and on a ventilator that breathed for her to allow her lungs to “recover.”
After 10 days, she was then transferred to a rehabilitation clinic, where she had to relearn how to use her hands and speak.
People on ventilators may have reduced blood flow to their extremities, such as the hands. This can cause the areas to become deprived of oxygen, damaging the nerves there.
Patients may also experience a paralyzed voice box due to the tubes placed in the throat for the ventilator.
Ms Hensley said doctors at the time believed her hospitalization was due to the vape.
She said: “Doctors thought she had the initial lung damage from vaping.
“The whole initial hospitalization was due to the vaping injury.
“After that, they think she had a previously undiagnosed autoimmune disease that, once her lungs were injured, launched a full-blown attack on them, believing them to be the enemy.”
Chemicals inhaled via vapors can damage the small airways of the lungs, causing inflammation and scarring, doctors say Johns Hopkins University.
This reduces the amount of oxygen the lungs can take in with each breath, increasing the risk of numerous health problems.
Ms. Hall is pictured above with her vape pen while shopping and sightseeing. She would take it everywhere
Mrs Hall with her father. She decided to switch from smoking to vaping after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness due to smoking
Mrs. Hall introduced herself before her lung problems started with Mrs. Hensley. They got married in 2014
An autoimmune disease is when the immune system malfunctions and starts attacking the body’s own cells, mistaking them for a threat. Mrs Hall was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, where an attack by white blood cells leads to inflammation and scarring of the organ.
Ms. Hall stopped vaping immediately after the initial hospitalization, but she continued to struggle with lung problems.
She was hospitalized again in February 2020 for double pneumonia, and again in December 2020 after waking up to find she had turned blue and “could barely stand.”
Her widow took her to the hospital and doctors rushed out to get her inside.
‘[But] When they came to the car to help get her, they asked me if she was normally that color,’ Mrs Hensley said.
“That was the longest she was on a ventilator from December 30, 2020 to February 4, 2021.”
Tests at the time also showed her blood oxygen levels were in the 50s.
Ms Hall was kept on a ventilator in hospital but doctors said she would not recover.
“I fully believed that her lungs would heal from the vapor injury and she would be well again, but I was wrong,” her widow said.
“I was told there was no significant chance of improvement and it was unlikely she could ever survive without the ventilator, especially as her stats wouldn’t improve – where they told me to say goodbye.
“I could talk to her and hold her hand as she died, until she closed her eyes and took her last breath.”
Doctors recorded her cause of death as haemorrhage after tracheostomy, or if blood enters the lungs from the trachea or trachea.
They also recorded secondary causes of staphylococcal pneumonia and interstitial lung disease.
Speaking of the loss, Mrs Hensley said: ‘We have lost the heart of our family and it is a loss we will never recover.
“Since I lost her, life has been miserable and I feel adrift – every day is a struggle to function and her absence is felt to the core.
Amanda wanted others to be aware of the dangers of vaping and the opportunity to share her story, even if it only helps one person, would be great.
“People are dying from this habit.
“With smoking, at least doctors know what the long-term effects are, but this is new and unregulated.
“Nobody knows what it really does to people.”
Ms Hensley said she had now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the ordeal and is having trouble sleeping due to nightmares. She says she wakes up crying too.
“She was the first woman I dated and I was terrified at first, but I had so much fun with her,” she said.
“She put me at ease, made me laugh and was just so cute.
“Life isn’t the same without her, but my love for Amanda will always live on – she was my everything and more.
“I hope my wife’s story will help others who are trying to deter this deadly habit and hopefully avoid the same devastating fate we all suffered.”
Since Mrs Hall’s death, her family, including her sister, Angela, 48, has been struggling to get their lives back on track.
She launched a GoFundMe to help cover hospital bills, where she raised $2,080 (USD), with an end goal of $5,000 (USD).