A 16-year-old died overnight after he was hospitalized due to collapsed lungs that were apparently caused by using electronic cigarettes, it was announced Saturday.
Shortly after the father of Meidan Keller said in a Facebook post that his “dear son” had died, the hospital where the teen was treated said in a statement that he died after “disconnecting himself” from an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which provides cardiac and respiratory assistance.
“Initial details indicate that the boy died after apparently disconnecting himself from the ECMO for an unknown reason,” the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel said.
The hospital said the case had been referred to the Health Ministry for investigation.
In an interview with the Ynet news site, Keller’s father said his son died when he briefly stepped out the room, and that the tube to the machine could have easily come loose.
“I went to get food, I told the nurse to look after him because I was leaving the room. After two minutes, I heard shouts from the hallway and they were doing CPR on him,” said Yariv Keller.
“I saw that the hospital issued a statement that he had disconnected himself. If anyone saw that Midan disconnected the tube, they should let us know. It’s a tube connected to an artery in the neck, moving in the wrong place can make it come loose,” he said.
Yariv Keller called on parents to make sure their children don’t use electronic cigarettes, saying that there had been dozens of similar cases of lung collapse in the United States.
“Unfortunately electronic cigarettes are accessible to [children],” he said. “As parents, we were involved in Meidan’s life, but there is no [total] control. You can educate, but it’s hard to prevent cigarettes.”
Keller’s mother had asked Israelis to pray for his health and urged other parents not to let their children use electronic cigarettes, often referred to as vapes.
The Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians called for greater preventive measures to block the sale of tobacco products to children and urged a ban on electronic cigarettes.
“Using electronic cigarettes endangers lives,” tweeted Hagai Levine, a leading public health official.
According to Ynet, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has signed an order that the tax should be reduced on electronic cigarettes by 20 percent, despite warnings from health officials.
If the order is not approved by the Knesset’s Finance Committee within the next three weeks, the tax will be scrapped altogether, the report said.
In 2019, the Health Ministry considered a total ban on electronic cigarettes due to reports regarding electronic cigarette-related deaths in the US amid a surge in vape usage, particularly among young people.
In June, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of vape products produced by Juul Labs Inc., due to the high levels of nicotine found in the flavored oils produced by the company.
Israel already placed a ban on importing Juul products containing more than 20 milligrams of nicotine in 2018. Electronic cigarette usage remains legal.