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A mother has issued a heartbreaking warning about the dangers of vaping after her 15-year-old daughter’s secret habit left her with a rare life-threatening lung disease.

Sydney teenager Dakota Stephenson went to hospital with a high temperature and back pain last September, seven months after she started vaping with friends at school.

Dakota was diagnosed with hypoxia within hours, meaning her lungs weren’t getting enough air, and she spent three days on partial ventilation struggling to breathe.

Sydney schoolgirl Dakota Stephenson, 15, spent three days on partial ventilation struggling to breathe after she started vaping.

Sydney schoolgirl Dakota Stephenson, 15, spent three days on partial ventilation struggling to breathe after she started vaping.

Dakota in the photo on the left.  Doctors at Randwick Children's Hospital believe she suffered from a recently discovered lung condition called EVALI.

Dakota in the photo on the left. Doctors at Randwick Children’s Hospital believe she suffered from a recently discovered lung condition called EVALI.

His doctors at Randwick Children’s Hospital believe he suffered from a lung condition called EVALI that was first reported in the US in 2019.

EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, is believed to be caused by vapors containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance also found in marijuana, and the additive vitamin E acetate.

Dakota’s mother, Natasha Stephenson, only discovered that her daughter had started vaping when she was admitted to the hospital.

“She was really sick,” Ms Stephenson told the Daily Mail Australia. “They took about a dozen syringes from her lungs to drain 250ml of fluid that had built up from vaping.”

The teen started vaping in early 2020 before moving on to nicotine cartridges and, in her prime, was smoking up to three times a week with her friends.

“Sometimes it would be a vape every day,” his mother said.

“She was asking for $5 to buy snacks or go to McDonald’s after school, but we didn’t know she was saving that money to buy nicotine cartridges.

Dakota pictured in the hospital.  Her mother, Natasha Stephenson, only found out that her daughter had started vaping when she had to seek medical attention.

Dakota pictured in the hospital. Her mother, Natasha Stephenson, only found out that her daughter had started vaping when she had to seek medical attention.

‘The guy I was buying them from would get them in different flavors like grape, strawberry and watermelon.

It’s basically a kids menu.

Ms Stephenson said she wanted e-cigarettes banned and called on Australian authorities to crack down on manufacturers who put potentially harmful chemicals in their products.

“I don’t see why Australia can’t just ban them from the market,” he said.

‘However, you can also order vapes online. It’s too easy for young people to get their hands on them.

The teen's mother said she wanted e-cigarettes banned.

The teen’s mother said she wanted e-cigarettes banned.

While Dakota was released from the hospital after a week, abnormal growths called nodules were still showing up on her lung scans several months after her discharge.

“They call them popcorn lungs: the nodules eventually burst on their own. But if Dakota is running or doing PE, she still gets out of breath,” her mother said.

A respiratory expert said that even though Dakota never used a vaping device that included THC, her case met all of the obvious EVALI criteria.

Alfred Hospital Melbourne respiratory doctor Eli Dabscheck said doctors may never know for sure what caused her lungs to fill with fluid.

‘There are definitely risks from nicotine in terms of cardiac toxicity. It’s definitely not something I’d want my kids to do,’ he said. ABC News.

Between March 2019 and February 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,807 hospitalized cases of EVALI.

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