A dad-to-be claims his lungs collapsed after smoking for just a month.
Alex Gittins then had to undergo grueling surgery to “stick” it back to the chest wall.
The 31-year-old swapped out his cigarettes for electronic cigarettes to quit smoking in April, inhaling two devices for 600 puffs a week.
But on May 25, he developed pain in his right side.
The roofer, who was working in Leeds at the time, said the stinging sensation had felt like a “stinging” and breathing had suddenly become unbearable.
As the throbbing spread to his left side and chest over the next 90 minutes, a “panic” Alex feared he was going to have a heart attack.
He rushed to Darlington Memorial Hospital in County Durham, where after an X-ray, doctors confirmed his right lung was “out of air at all” and had collapsed from a condition known as pneumothorax.
Alex said: “I had just texted my partner that I was going to the hospital because I had some chest pains but there was nothing to worry about.”
“Then it literally went from complaining to the front desk about my not being able to breathe properly to being in the CPR ward in the ER.”
“It occurred to me that I might die. I’m someone who doesn’t really go to the doctor, I just keep going, but I was scared.”
A tube was quickly inserted into his chest to force out the trapped air and accumulated fluid, which was slowly crushing his lungs and chest.
However, when the lungs failed to heal naturally, the terrified boy was transferred to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for surgery on June 1.
During the two-hour operation, doctors cut out part of the affected organ, then stapled it back together and “glued” the lung to Alex’s chest wall with a white powder to prevent it from collapsing again.
Alex, who is set to become a father for the first time in September, now fears the vapes he uses are “fake”.
The future parent claims he was so out of breath he “greyed” in the emergency room waiting room and believes he “might have died.”
Bishop Auckland’s Alex said: “I think the vape I used wasn’t real.”
“A vape alone can’t be good for you, let alone a fake one.
“I always say I’d rather smoke a cigarette because at least I know a cigarette will kill me — you never know what’s in a vape.”
“I always said I wouldn’t start smoking e-cigarettes — and now I did and look what happened to me.”
i was scared It occurred to me that I might die.
Alex was sent home from the hospital on June 9 with a large tube inserted into his right side and attached to a plastic bag to catch any remaining fluid.
He said he was still adjusting to his newly taped lung and would get breathless if he walked for more than five minutes.
He was told to be back to normal within eight weeks, but there is still a two per cent chance of the lung collapsing again.
“Every time I coughed, the bag filled up like a balloon,” he said.
“They said I should be able to do everything I was able to before within six to eight weeks of surgery, but I’m not sure.”
“When I go for a walk, it feels like I’ve walked an hour instead of five minutes. I just feel out of breath and tired all the time.”
“Everyone heals differently so I’ll have to wait and see, but I don’t think there will be any long-term effects.”
“They say there’s a 98 percent chance that something like this won’t happen again, which is good, but not 100 percent.”
His surgeons have told him never to smoke or vape again – and he wants others to follow suit.
“I definitely regret buying e-cigarettes,” he said.
“I think people should stop vaping, but people don’t listen unless it’s happening to someone close to home.
“I’m more excited [for the birth of my child] now that i was
“That was just an eye opener for me — I used to be a nightmare because I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just do that tomorrow.'”
“And then I left home to go to work and I didn’t come home for 15 days. Anything can happen in one day.”
In the UK, e-cigarettes have been linked to at least five deaths. The devices reportedly suffered collapsed lungs in children.
Figures from the NHS show that last year 40 young people under the age of 19 were hospitalized for selling e-cigarettes illegally.
Among them were 15 children aged nine or younger – last year there were twelve, the year before there were only two.
Experts have warned that “teen vaping is fast becoming an epidemic among children.”
The Sun revealed last night that equipment contaminated with a deadly lightning-eating drug has been found in the UK.
Xylazine, a horse tranquilizer causing havoc among drug users in the US, has been discovered in modified e-cigarettes in Luton, Bedfordshire.