‘I almost died’: Teen warns others about vaping THC

BERKS COUNTY, Pa. -- A teenager from Berks County recovering at home after he says he nearly died from vaping THC cartridges.

The teen is sharing what he experienced in an effort to save lives.

17-year-old Xander Amidon spent four days fighting to stay alive at Reading Hospital.

“I mean, I literally almost died," explained Xander. "I was told by the doctors if I didn’t come in at that time, and I came in a couple hours later, I most likely would’ve died or been in a coma."

Xander Amidon is a junior at Governor Mifflin High School, where he gets good grades and loves hanging out with his girlfriend, Grace.

Xander also loves his dog, Mack, and playing rugby with his team.

Right now, the latter is on hold.

“What I went through is the most terrifying, scary, and not fun at all thing I went through just cause I thought it was safe and cool, I guess," added Xander.

The teen says he used to vape THC cartridges.

"Like every day - I almost always had a dab cartridge, and I smoked a lot, and it just completely ruined my lungs," he explained.

Xander claims it's a huge problem in high schools.

“How many of your classmates do you know of — that did the same thing?" asked FOX43's Grace Griffaton.

“A lot. I’m not going to lie," explained Xander.

Xander says it is very easy for people to buy the cartridges - at school, at convenience stores, etc.

Doctors recently diagnosed Xander with lung illness related to vaping. Since? They have called the teen a science experiment.

Xander spent four days in the hospital, dehydrated, and hooked up to oxygen. He also took a myriad of antibiotics and steroids.

“The way he looked and just watching him struggle to take every single breath. It was a mom’s worst nightmare," explained Kari Ide, Xander's mother.

Xander also lost twenty pounds and continues to feel tired every day.

Ide says watching her son struggle to breathe was the loneliest feeling in the world.

"It’s everyone’s child," explained Ide. "It’s not just my kid. He’s an athlete. He’s a tremendous student. He’s kind. It’s your cheerleader. Your class president. The kid who goes to church every Sunday with mom and dad. Search their rooms. If you have a shred of maybe this is going on, search their rooms. I’d rather have an angry teenager than a dead teenager.”

According to the Department Of Health, there have been 9 confirmed cases of lung illness related to vaping in Pennsylvania.

Xander just wants other people to think before they inhale something that could forever change their lives.

“If you think, it’s safe. It’s probably not," said Xander.. "I’m just lucky I got out [of the hospital] in the time I did.”

Xander says he has a long journey ahead; he has not been back to school, he cannot play rugby yet, and he still has appointments at Reading Hospital.

Xander and his mother say if they save one life by sharing Xander's story, they have made a difference.

Ide gave Xander's vape pen to health officials so they could study it.

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