One man's story of the dangers of vaping

Jonathan Doneson says he is lucky to be alive.

Doneson, 52, was once a member of the cast of “Secrets and Wives”, a reality TV on the Bravo network based around a group of Long Island women navigating the pitfalls of marriage and divorce. 

However, television nearly turned to tragedy for Doneson last month, after he was admitted to the hospital with a dangerously high fever, night-sweats and a chronic cough. He had recently returned from a business trip to China, but doctors were unable to find anything wrong with him until they discovered he had been vaping THC.

“I mean, I thought the grim reaper was laying in the bed next to me, to be honest with you. I thought I was done,” Doneson said at a press conference on Thursday. 

Doneson was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator with double pneumonia. 

Health officials are now looking into whether cartridge samples containing THC and nicotine have high levels of Vitamin E acetate oil and traces of pesticides. But when it comes to ingredients, Doneson has his own theory. 

“Even the legal dispensaries that are offering legal products are buying black market product because the product they’re selling is taxed and what they’re buying isn’t taxed,” Doneson said.

Three Northwell Hospitals have seen a dozen cases, the majority of them involving THC in the past three months. Doctors say that there are safer, more regulated ways, including medical marijuana through regulated dispensaries to treat chronic pain and anxiety. 

“The concern is really that, one, combining it with the THC is dangerous and then that over years of use, that it’s going to cause major problems,” said Annamaria Iakovou, MD, a pulmonologist at Northwell Hospital.

Doneson was given a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics and made a full recovery. Now, he is sharing his story with anyone thinking about vaping.

“My message is, if you’re using it, throw it away,” Doneson said. “If your children are using it, parents, please, be a little aggressive, so what if they cry? You don’t want to cry later.”