Fact Check: Truth Behind Video That Allegedly Shows Lungs of Man Who Smoked a Pack of Cigarettes Every Day for 30 Years

Weibo user @陈静瑜肺腑之言
Weibo user @陈静瑜肺腑之言


A video authentically depicts the lungs of a 52-year-old man who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.


Rating: Mostly True
Rating: Mostly True

What's True:

The lungs belonged to a 52-year-old brain dead person who had indeed smoked for nearly 30 years. However ...


What's False:

There's no evidence the person specifically smoked a pack a day, nor did the doctor whose team performed the operation confirm the person was male.


On June 26, 2024, X account @HowThingsWork_ posted a video claiming to depict the lungs of a 52-year-old man who had smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. The post received more than 29.9 million views and 87,000 likes, as of this writing.

The water stamp on the post credited an account on Chinese social media site Weibo that belongs to Dr. Chen Jingyu, director of Jiangsu Lung Transplant Center at the Wuxi People's Hospital of Nanjing Medical Hospital.

We found the original post on Weibo, which Jingyu first published on Nov. 14, 2019.

(Weibo user @陈静瑜肺腑之言)

The caption, translated by Google Translate, is as follows:

#Stop Smoking
The team obtained a donated lung from a brain-dead ... donor. The donor was 52 years old and had smoked for nearly 30 years. After the acquisition, it was observed that the donor lung had mild emphysema, lung bullae, and tuberculosis calcification in the pneumoconiosis area. The lungs of many smokers in our country are similar. The team decided to give up using this donor lung for transplantation. This means that after the brain death of a smoker, even if you want to donate a lung, there will be no recipient. After seeing this lung, you still have the courage to smoke?

Some X users expressed doubt that a human's lungs could be that large. "Lungs of a what? Elephant? Come on," commented one user.

According to the American Lung Association, the maximum amount of air an average adult male's lungs can hold is about six liters (approximately three large soda bottles). An average adult human lung weighs about 2.2 pounds and is a little longer than 9 inches when breathing normally, and about 10.5 inches when lungs are completely expanded, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

In sum, because we were able to find the original post by Jingyu – who confirmed that the donor of the lungs was 52 years old and had been smoking for 30 years – we rate this claim as "Mostly True." Contrary to several viral X posts, Jingyu did not confirm that the lungs belonged to someone who specifically smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, nor did he confirm that the donor was a male.


China Organ Harvest Research Center - Wuxi People's Hospital. https://www.chinaorganharvest.org/hospitals/wuxi-peoples-hospital/. Accessed 27 June 2024.

' '. 'Horrifying Video Shows How Years of Smoking Leaves Your Lungs Blackened by Tar Build Up'. The Sun, 18 Nov. 2019, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10367330/video-years-smoking-lungs-blackened-tar/.

'Lungs: Location, Anatomy, Function & Complications'. Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/8960-lungs. Accessed 27 June 2024.

Nanjing Medical University. https://english.njmu.edu.cn/. Accessed 27 June 2024.

微博. https://m.weibo.cn/detail/4438820826646842. Accessed 27 June 2024.