Hope for Emphysema Patients - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Hope for Emphysema Patients

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A couple years ago, Aldine Reynolds would not be dancing the jitterbug with her daughter in her living room. Today, however, there’s no slowing this dancer down. But a few years back she was getting sick – frequently. “I started getting bronchitis… and also walking pneumonia." Aldine lived an active life for years before getting sick. The now 55-year-old says she used to exercise all the time, which is how she realized something was seriously wrong. “I couldn't do a squat, a lat pull-down, doing bicep curls were difficult. And I found myself doing aerobics and I couldn't get through a whole session."

Doctors diagnosed Aldine with C.O.P.D. - more specifically emphysema. Her lungs were in such bad shape, one doctor even suggested hospice!

Aldine admits she smoked on and off, but she had quit. However, severe damage was already done. “The lungs are made of millions of tiny air sacks called alveoli and in emphysema these air sacks become destroyed,” explains Dr. Steven Hays who is the Medical Director of the Lung Transplant Program at the University of California, San Francisco’s Medical Center.

Aldine was approved for a clinical trial at U.C.S.F. involving the Zephyr Endobronchial Valves. They are designed to basically plug up damaged areas of the lung. “These endobronchial valves, when placed inside the bronchial tubes, can allow air to escape these stretched out areas of the lung and not return." Dr. Hays says that decreases the lung volume, which makes it easier to breathe.

U.C.S.F. is monitoring five patients in its clinical trial and more than 100 patients are taking part around the country. Aldine says she noticed the benefits from the procedure immediately. She does not rely on her oxygen machine anymore and spends time in the park with her grandchildren. “It brought back life, and hospice is out!"

The procedure is being performed in Europe, but it is still being studied in the U.S. Dr. Hays says it likely will not be widely available here for a few years.

The clinical trial is still enrolling patients with severe C.O.P.D.

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