Tommi's Story

Louisville, Kentucky

Mom who loves traveling with her husband and spending time with her daughters.

Procedure Details:

Age at Treatment: 57
Doctor: Dr. Hiram Rivas, University of Louisville, KY
Date of Procedure: September 2015

Life Before Zephyr® Valves:

Life before emphysema and COPD was wonderful. I raised two great daughters, loved my work, and enjoyed traveling with my husband. We went to the Gulf Shores every year, but everything changed when I got sick with emphysema/COPD. I was first diagnosed in 2009 by my family doctor. I used inhalers right away, but I put off the oxygen as long as I could.

Oxygen felt like such a big step, but eventually I had no choice. It was my daughter’s nursing school graduation, and I was determined to go. We borrowed a wheelchair from church and brought the oxygen tank out. The only issue was I put it on the wrong setting and ended up running out at the graduation. Well, if you are going to have a medical issue, a graduation full of new nurses is not the worst place.

My emphysema progressed quickly and by 2012 I was very sick. I was approved for disability right away which is rare in Kentucky, but my records showed how sick I was. I was referred to the transplant center and was so overwhelmed. The transplant list is a big commitment. Endless testing, bloodwork, rehabilitation, and if you don’t comply, you don’t stay on the list. I did this for two years. I spoke with a woman who had a transplant, and she explained what I could expect. However, when I asked her if she would do it over again, she said no. I also knew a nurse who had the lung transplant and only lived for three additional years. I was frightened, but at that point, that was my only real option.

Life was very difficult. Just getting out of bed and dressed would take all the stamina I had. It was hard to leave the house. I am so blessed to have such a great guy who stood by me through all this. My husband had to do everything because I could no longer cook or do housework. It was a very depressing time. Life was going by, and I could not participate anymore.

Then my doctor mentioned the Zephyr Valve treatment. I was unsure at first, but once I met with the team doing the clinical trial, I felt that I should try this because it was definitely a better option than a major organ transplant.


Life After Zephyr® Valves:

Having the Zephyr Valves was a fantastic decision for me and a real turning point in managing this awful illness.

The procedure went very smoothly. I experienced no pain at all. I didn’t even have a sore throat. I did stay in the hospital for observation for several days, but that was expected. I felt fine and was sitting up playing cards and watching movies.

For me, the results were not immediate. I think my expectations were too high. I thought I would be cured, but I still needed my daily medications. That said, within a month or so I could see a very big difference. Everyday tasks became manageable again. I started to cook and straighten up the house.

Now it’s been three years and I am still doing great. My lung function numbers are the same as they were seven years ago, as if the disease has not progressed. I still use my oxygen, but I am back in the land of the living now. I cook, clean, and socialize again. My husband and I go out on dates. I go shopping with my girls. I am so grateful to be able to live my life on my terms again.

I want to set realistic expectations. This was not a cure, but it was life-changing. It just improved my quality of life so much. I feel like I won the lottery!

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.
P0719EN_A June 2019