(NBC News) – A 17-year-old Texas teen is in critical care at Children’s Health in Dallas and doctors fear she may be the latest patient in an outbreak of illnesses tied to vaping.
Witney Livingston, of Tyler, went from a healthy teenager to now relying on a ventilator to keep her breathing.
Doctors and her mother believe it was caused by vaping.
Witney Livingston didn’t keep it a secret that she frequently vaped, according to her mother Jennifer Audas.
“She had told me she was smoking cigarettes and I thought it was safe to smoke something else that was more vape,” said Audas.
Jennifer says Witney has been using e-cigarettes regularly for about two years, and never showed signs that it might be hurting her health.
Until two weeks ago, she says Witney came down with a fever that quickly progressed to pneumonia.
“The doctor said it looked like no pneumonia he had ever seen,” said Audas.
Within days she says witney couldn’t breathe. She was transferred to Children’s hospital in Dallas where Witney was put on life support.
Traditional treatment for pneumonia wasn’t working, indicating to doctors that the problem stemmed from something else.
A likely culprit for Witney’s lung injury? vaping.
“I felt like this was my fault because I was letting my kid do that because I thought it was safe. It’s not safe.”
Jennifer estimates Witney vaped three to four e-cigarette pads a week, equivalent to three to four packs of cigarettes.
Although public health officials are still looking into the dangers of vaping, Jennifer says her daughter is proof and hopes parents and their teenage children hear her warning.
“It’s important that parents be really proactive and not supplying that for their kids. don’t give them money to do that. Help them make the right choice because it can help save their lives. My daughter almost died.”
Witney Livingston is slowly recovering.
Vaping company Juul said its products aren’t intended for children and fully supports any action that would keep nicotine and tobacco out of young hands.