BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — The parents of a 21-year-old man from Brooklyn Park say he's among a growing number of people suffering from severe lung injury linked to vaping.
"It's absolutely devastating. I haven't heard my son's voice in well over a week," said Sedric McClure, whose son, Elijah, is now on a respirator. "The violent retching, with the dry heaving and the vomiting, really shook me to my core."
McClure says his son was in and out of the ER after experiencing flu-like symptoms. After nothing seemed to work, he was admitted to the hospital for observation. Three days later he was moved into the ICU and put on a respirator.
"To see him all hooked up on those tubes and not being able to respond, I wouldn't want anybody having to go through that," said Tami McClure, Elijah's mom.
The McClures say they knew their son had tried vaping at the age of 15, and attempted to stop him from doing it.
"We took a hard stance on it," Sedric McClure said. "So he started hiding it from us."
"It was a point of contention with him and myself," Tami McClure said. "When he went into the emergency room the questions were asked as to what he was doing, and how often. It was something that he said he did on a regular basis. He knew he had to be honest because at that point he's sick."
The Minnesota Department of Health has now opened investigations into at least 32 people hospitalized after reporting vaping, including one death. The CDC has reported 450 cases nationwide, and a total of five deaths.
State public health officials, along with the FDA, are testing a variety of products linked to the cases, but have yet to determine what is causing the injuries.
In Minnesota, public health officials say illegal THC products are linked to the cases they have already confirmed. New York's Department of Health says it's THC samples all had high levels of Vitamin E, an oil that could be used as an additive.
Sedric McClure says he wasn't able to talk to his son about what specific products he tried before getting sick. Now he just prays he'll get the chance.
"As a parent, all I hope for my children and other young people is that you survive your mistakes," he said. "We're all going to make them but the point is, can you survive them, can you learn from them, and what can we take from this?"
The McClures say that's why they are now speaking out, no matter how their story is received.
"Whatever you think about Elijah, whatever you think about us as parents in this situation, it is not a good idea to put moisture in your lungs," Sedric McClure said. "This is something that we all have to be aware of. People need to know that if someone you know is experiencing these flu-like symptoms and they're vaping, it is so important for you to get to the hospital because you're on the clock."