MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Looking back at the photos of himself using a ventilator to breathe, Elijah McClure can’t help but feel anything but grateful.

“It’s just the biggest reality shock,” said McClure.

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The 22-year-old had been vaping since he was 15. He thought his habit was safe, using both vape pens and cartridges.

“On average … I would say for myself, two to four times an hour,” said McClure.

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In August, he went to the doctor, thinking he had the flu. Things progressively got worse and he was hospitalized.

“After that, it kind of went blurry. I had quite some dreams,” said McClure.

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Elijah McClure during his hospitalization (credit: McClure Family)

Instead of spending the semester at school, the Augsburg University student has been recovering. Late last month, doctors told him his lungs didn’t show signs of permanent scarring.

“Just to sink it in and process it … it broke me down a little bit,” said McClure.

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Officials are still testing the cartridges he was using, so his family still isn’t sure what was in them. Now, McClure hopes his experience will teach others about the dangers of vaping. He has reached out to several local schools, offering to share his story with the younger generation.

“It was a life-or-death situation, and I’m glad I came out. Not everyone else is as lucky as I am,” said McClure.

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Three people have died from vaping-related lung injuries so far this year in Minnesota. More than 100 people have been hospitalized.