PEKIN, Ind.– A Hoosier father in southern Indiana says his daughter, Megan Eagle, died after a history of vaping THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Earlier this month, Indiana health officials confirmed the state’s first vaping-related death. Steve Dillon said they are talking about his 31-year-old daughter.
“It truly is a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Dillon. “And it is a nightmare I even occasionally have, seen her death.”
Dillon lives about two hours south of Indianapolis. He was supposed to be celebrating Megan’s 32nd birthday last week. It all changed after a trip to the emergency room in August.
“She became ill, had flu like symptoms, had a fever, an upset stomach,” he said. “She vomited and was short of breath.”
He said her sickness kept getting worse and doctors could not stop it. One night, Dillon said doctors decided to put her on a ventilator. Less than a week later, Megan passed away at the hospital.
Dillon said her doctor believes her illness was likely related to vaping.
“He told me in the cases he has seen in this region that they all look exactly like Megan,” he said.
Dillon still has one of her vape pens. He believes Megan started vaping THC about a year ago to manage pain and she was getting her supply from California.
“Nobody knows what you are smoking, nobody knows what is going into your lungs, what you are sucking into your lungs,” he said.
Right now, Indiana State Department of Health is investigating at least 50 cases of severe lung injury. More than 15 of those cases are confirmed. A spokesperson for ISDH said cases are confirmed using the case definition set by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
ISDH said a majority of the cases are people ages 18 to 29 with a history of vaping. THC has been reported in a majority of cases.
Patients have experienced respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.
This week, the CDC said there are more than 800 lung injury cases reported and all patients have a history of vaping.
Physicians at IU Methodist and Riley Hospital said they are also seeing illnesses that could be linked to vaping.
“We are seeing people the ages of 18 to 34 mostly coming in with vague cough, fever and general difficulty breathing,” said Tommy Eales, an emergency medicine physician at IU Methodist.
Dr. Eales said it is becoming more routine for doctors to ask patients about vaping.
Health officials still do not know what is causing these mysterious illnesses. It is a mystery Dillon wants to be solved so another family does not experience his pain.
“I will never get my baby back. That is over. But I would like to know what killed her,” he said.