By Charlie Coe for Daily Mail Australia
A mother has issued a heartbreaking warning about the dangers of vaping after her 15-year-old daughter’s secretive habit caused her to develop a rare life-threatening lung disease.
Sydney teenager Dakota Stephenson went to the hospital last September with a high temperature and back pain, seven months after she first started vaping with friends at school.
Dakota was diagnosed with hypoxia within hours—meaning her lungs weren’t getting enough air—and spent three days on partial ventilation, struggling to breathe.
Sydney schoolgirl Dakota Stephenson, 15, spent three days on partial ventilation, struggling to breathe after vaping
Her doctors at Randwick Children’s Hospital believe she was suffering from a lung condition called EVALI, which was first reported in the US in 2019.
EVALI – which stands for lung injury related to e-cigarette or vaping product use – is thought to be caused by vapors containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance also found in marijuana, and additive vitamins. E acetate.
Dakota’s mother, Natasha Stephenson, was admitted to the hospital only to find out that her daughter had started vaping.
‘She was really sick,’ Ms Stephenson told Daily Mail Australia. ‘They took about a dozen syringes from his lungs to remove 250 ml of fluid that was made of vapour.’
The teenager started vaping in early 2020 before switching to nicotine cartridges and at its peak was smoking three times a week with his friends.
‘Sometimes it would be a rape every day,’ his mother said.
‘She’d ask for $5 to buy breakfast or go to McDonald’s after school, but little did we know she was saving that money to buy nicotine cartridges.
‘The man she was buying them from would find them with a variety of flavors, such as grape, strawberry and melon.
‘It’s basically a menu for the kids.’
Dakota left the picture. Doctors at Randwick Children’s Hospital believe she was suffering from a recently discovered lung condition known as EVALI. is called
Ms Stephenson said she wants e-cigarettes banned and called on Australian authorities to be tough on manufacturers who put potentially harmful chemicals into their products.
“I don’t understand why Australia can’t ban them from the market,” he said.
‘However, you can also order WAPs online. It is very easy for young people to lay their hands on them.’
Teenager’s mother says she wants e-cigarettes banned
While Dakota was released from the hospital after a week, scans of her lungs still showed abnormal growths called nodules several months after discharge.
‘They call them popcorn lungs – the nodules eventually pop on their own. But even if Dakota is running or peeing, she still gets breathless,’ her mother said.
A respiratory specialist said Dakota never used a vaping device that contained THC, but her case met all of the EVALI’s clear criteria.
Elly Dabschak, a respiratory therapist at Alfred Hospital Melbourne, said doctors may never know for sure what caused the fluid in her lungs to fill up.
‘There is definitely a risk from nicotine in terms of heart toxicity. It’s definitely not something I want my kids to do,’ he told ABC News.
Between March 2019 and February 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,807 hospitalized cases of EVALI.
In the picture is a scan of the teenager’s lung, which was filled with fluid. Within hours of being admitted to the hospital she was diagnosed with hypoxia – meaning her lungs weren’t getting enough air