Local woman says she’s being treated for vaping related illness

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Michelle Ratner says she got sick from using THC vape cartridges. Saturday afternoon, she sat in the hospital with an oxygen tube in her nose.

“The vape craze is what’s going on right now, so I tried the vape craze,” Ratner told News10, “I got really sick.”

Michelle Ratner from Albany suffers from gastroparesis. She says she was prescribed medical marijuana to alleviate her discomfort.

“I was prescribed Marinol through my primary care doctor. I switched primary care doctors and went to a federally funded clinic,” Ratner told News10, “and they will no longer prescribe my Marinol.”

She felt she had to go elsewhere for marijuana. She turned to the streets of Albany.

“I bought my vapes on the street. They look like legit cartridges,” Ratner told News10, “you can’t tell that there’s anything different about them.”

After about 2 weeks of smoking them, Ratner says she got really sick. 

“I started throwing up and I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

She says the doctors treating her suspect the vape cartridges are to blame.

“I have pneumonia all in my lower lobes, and it’s all in my back,” Ratner said.

Earlier this week, a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx was the the first vaping related death in New York State.

“I saw how all these people were dying from it,” Ratner told News10, “so once I got sick I got really scared.”

She realizes now that the product she used may not have been regulated.

“Anything that is a THC cartridge in New York is not legal,” Ratner told News10, “so you are putting something into your body that, you have idea what it is.”

She’s right – cartridges containing THC are illegal for recreational use in New York State, so they have to come from an out of state dispensary or an illicit market.

Rattner says she only bought the products with good intentions.

“I was doing it to enhance my health,” Ratner told News10, “not to try and hurt my health.”

She wants others to be careful and not take the same risks she did, so they don’t end up in the hospital.

“If I could just pass on my story so people would be aware, and maybe one person wouldn’t go through it,” Ratner said, “that’s what I would want from this.”

The FDA says most patients with vaping illnesses report using products with THC, suggesting that it’s playing a role in the outbreak. They recommend people not use THC vaping products, or any cartridges obtained off the street or from other illicit or social sources.

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