Cindy's Story

Carlisle, Kentucky

Wife and mom who loves to travel and watch her daughter’s bowling tournaments

Procedure Details:

Age at Treatment: 56
Doctor:  Dr. Hiram Rivas Perez, University of Louisville
Date of Procedure: January 2017

Life Before Zephyr® Valves:

Before emphysema, I led a busy, active life. I worked in accounting, raised two kids, and loved to travel with my husband. We would rent a houseboat every year on the lake with a big group of friends.

I was diagnosed with emphysema/COPD at age 46 during a screening for an autoimmune disease. Over the years I used several medications to help control the symptoms including Spiriva™, Advair™, Humira™, prednisone, methotrexate, and a nebulizer. I was finally able to quit smoking for good in 2012 but the disease had begun to really impact my life. From 2008 to 2014 I was in the hospital every year. I had to go on disability. In 2014 I was hospitalized three times and during one of those episodes I started turning blue and scared my poor husband to death! I was not intubated but was put on a trilogy bipap ventilator machine. These were very frightening times for me and my family.

Over the years, the most basic tasks became difficult. I used oxygen during the day in order to go anywhere or do basic housework. Even taking a shower was difficult. I lost a lot of weight because I was very down and had no appetite. I was anxious all the time. It is hard to live when you can’t breathe.

It was difficult on my family too. The kids had to see me struggle and be in and out of the hospital. My husband owned a heating company but ultimately had to close it and stay home to take care of me. One of the worst parts of the disease was how it impacted my role as a mom. It was tough to miss the kids’ activities and special moments. When my daughter wanted to go try makeup and do those fun mom and daughter things, it was often my husband who would have to take her.

In 2015 my pulmonary doctor suggested I get on a lung transplant list. I have a friend who had a double lung transplant and the recovery was a grueling process. And, even after going through all that, they only give you an estimate of five years to live. When I was referred to Louisville for the valves, even though it was in the trial phase, I went to talk to them. My husband did a lot of research and the trial team did a great job explaining how it would work so I decided to go for it.


Life After Zephyr® Valves:

Having the Zephyr Valves was life changing for me. I stayed in the hospital for six days but overall the procedure went very smoothly. I know for sure that it was a lot easier than having a lung transplant!

It’s been almost 2 years and I am doing great. I am back to doing housework and I even go to the gym. I bring my oxygen reader and my inhaler in case I need it, but I am not afraid to be active anymore. I feel like I can take care of myself again. The Zephyr Valves allowed me to feel like a normal person again!

Not only am I feeling better, but the stress on my family is much less. My husband is back to work and the kids don’t worry as much. From August to March we travel to all of my daughter’s bowling tournaments. Before I had the valves, I had to pack my oxygen tank and give myself a big pep talk to make it to a tournament. There were always crowds and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. Now I don’t worry about going at all. I don’t even bring oxygen. I can stand if I have too, and I walk to the bathroom with no problem.

I still have emphysema and take daily medications, but I am back to living life again. My goals were to be able to walk around with my husband and take my kids shopping and I can do that now, and more!

I am traveling again. My husband and I went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina for a car show and stopped in Helen, Georgia on the way to sightsee. Taking that trip was pretty amazing because before the valves, just walking from one room to another in my house was a big effort. I really didn’t think I’d be traveling again, but here I am.

I am sharing my story because I want other emphysema sufferers to have hope and to know that this treatment is available!

What is the Zephyr Valve procedure?

The Zephyr Valve is the first FDA-approved, minimally-invasive device available in the U.S. for treating patients with severe emphysema. During a short 30-60 minute procedure, a physician uses a bronchoscope to place on average 4 tiny valves in the airways to block off the damage areas of the lungs so air no longer gets trapped there. No cutting or incision is required.

The valve placement allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and relieves the pressure on the diaphragm, which decreases shortness of breath and makes breathing easier. Patients report being able to take full breaths immediately after the procedure and within a few days are back to doing everyday tasks with ease.

Learn More
Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.
Complications of the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve treatment can include but are not limited to pneumothorax, worsening of COPD symptoms, hemoptysis, pneumonia, dyspnea and, in rare cases, death.
Brief Statement: Pulmonx Zephyr® Endobronchial Valves are implantable bronchial valves indicated for the bronchoscopic treatment of adult patients with hyperinflation associated with severe emphysema in regions of the lung that have little to no collateral ventilation. The Zephyr Valve is contraindicated for: Patients for whom bronchoscopic procedures are contraindicated; Patients with evidence of active pulmonary infection; Patients with known allergies to Nitinol (nickel-titanium) or its constituent metals (nickel or titanium); Patients with known allergies to silicone; Patients who have not quit smoking; Patients with large bullae encompassing greater than 30% of either lung. Use is restricted to a trained physician. Prior to use, please reference the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve System Instructions for more information on indications, contraindications, warnings, all precautions, and adverse events.
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