East Texas Teen Battling Possible Vaping-Related Illness

A 17-year-old 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 in just two weeks.

Doctors and her mother, Jennifer Audas, said they believed it was caused by vaping.

Audas said her daughter didn't keep it a secret that she frequently vaped, but Audas said she thought it was a safer alternative to smoking.

"You think, 'Cigarettes, you're going to get cancer, but this is much healthier,' because that's the way it's portrayed, as if it's a healthy thing," Audas said.

She said her daughter, who is a senior in high school, used e-cigarettes regularly for about two years and never showed signs that it might be hurting her health until two weeks ago when she said Witney came down with a fever that quickly progressed to pneumonia.

"The doctor said that it looked like no pneumonia he had ever seen," Audas said.

Within days, she said Witney couldn't breathe and was transferred to Children's Health in Dallas, where Witney was put on life support.

Traditional treatment for pneumonia wasn't working, indicating to doctors, according to Audas, that the problem stemmed from something else and the likely culprit of Witney's lung injury was vaping.

"I felt like this was my fault because I was letting my kid do this because I thought it was safe. It's not safe," Audas said.

She estimates her daughter vaped three to four e-cigarette pods, equivalent to three to four packs of cigarettes, a week.

Public health officials are still looking into the dangers of vaping, but Audas said her daughter is proof and hoped parents and their teenage children would hear her warning.

"It's important that parents really be proactive in not supplying that for their kids. Don't give them money to do that. Help them make the right choices because it can save their life," Audas said. "My daughter almost died."

She admitted that her daughter had tried other vaping devices, known as dab pens, that can be used for drugs or potent oils, but it's unknown whether that was a factor.

Witney Livingston is slowly recovering. You can follow her recovery here.

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.

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