JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ PLUS) — In a matter of days, 16-year-old Caleb Herdman went from being healthy to being on life support.
“Having a stomach ache, throwing up and not being able to hold anything down. Then it started evolving into me blacking out and not being able to remember what happened,” said Caleb Herdman, Junior at Bishop McCort High School.
And eventually, he was put on life support at the UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. He says all because he had been vaping since last August.
Herdman says it all started because most of his peers were doing it.
“I felt left out if I didn’t do it. It was kind of like peer pressure I felt like if I wasn’t doing it, I didn’t fit in.”
Caleb spent 18 days in the hospital. His mother Shannon says vaping and e-cigarette companies are getting away with advertising it as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.
“There’s no data studies on them, there hasn’t been any scientific journals or studies to date on them that really research the oils, the products, and effects whether short term or long term that they are going to have on your body,” said Shannon Herdman: Caleb’s Mother.
You have to be 18 to buy nicotine or a vaping pen in a store, Caleb bought his from an unlicensed distributor on eBay.
“It only took me one bad batch to send me to the hospital.”
“It shouldn’t be that easy for a minor to get their hands on this,” says his mother.
His mom says when buying from those distributors, it’s impossible to know what type of chemicals and pesticides are being used because they are unregulated by the F.D.A., unlike products sold in vaping stores that are regulated.
“Companies are out there to make money. They are going to make money all day long while they can. It’s our job now to make sure we combat that, so people know the truths, and people know the risks.”
Caleb is now learning how to function normally with around a third less lung capacity than most people his age. Caleb and his mom’s message to others is simple.
His mother says “be as open and honest with your kids as you can. Talk to them, tell them the dangers.”
“It’s really not worth it, and it’s not worth putting your life on the line,” says Caleb.