New lung procedure helps Pittsfield woman catch her breath, change her life

Knight, Nancy

Pittsfield resident Nancy Knight attends her grandchildren's sporting events thanks to a bronchoscopic lung volume reduction procedure performed by Dr. Umama Adil in February. | Photo courtesy of Blessing Hospital

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — A minimally invasive lung procedure performed at Blessing Hospital has given a 70-year-old grandmother her life back.

The procedure, bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, is a minimally invasive option to the incisions and cutting required with traditional lung volume reduction surgery in the treatment of the symptoms of COPD.

People with COPD struggle for every breath they take because of damage to their lungs. The disease restricts the lungs’ ability to obtain oxygen, reducing oxygen flow in the blood. Low blood oxygen levels damage organs – including the heart and brain – and tissues over time.

COPD cannot be cured, but its life-limiting and life-threatening symptoms can be reduced with BLVR. For patients who qualify, based on their anatomy and level of inability to expel air from their lungs, one-way valves are placed in the diseased parts of the lung, allowing the healthier parts of the lung to function better. The valves are placed using a machine called a bronchoscope, usually inserted through the nose or mouth. The procedure typically takes less than an hour.

Blessing Health board-certified, fellowship-trained pulmonologist Umama Adil performs the procedure.

In a press release, Dr. Adil said, “BLVR can lead to significant improvement in breathing and quality of life for most patients who suffer with a high level of air trapped in their lungs due to COPD. For these patients, the procedure is the recognized gold standard of COPD care.”

Meet Nancy Knight

Nancy Knight used to be easy to find.

“For three years, I stayed at home. I could not go anyplace,” Knight said. “When the family went to my grandson’s baseball games, which I love to attend, I could not go with them. I did not have enough energy to walk from the parking lot to the baseball diamond. I have granddaughters who play soccer and are on the swim team, too.”

Decades of smoking damaged the 70-year-old Pittsfield resident and Illini Community Hospital employee’s lungs, causing severe COPD/emphysema.

“Going from one room to another took my breath away. I could hardly do it,” Knight recalls.

After years of being tied to an oxygen tank, Knight had enough. She took to the internet to research treatment options. That is where she learned about BLVR.

“Nancy’s test results showed she lived with severe effects of COPD,” Dr. Adil said. “She would limit doing her day-to-day activities due to significant shortness of breath.”

Knight had three valves placed in her right lung on Feb. 20.

Where’s Nancy?

Since her BLVR procedure, Knight has been harder to find. She is attending her grandchildren’s sporting events, including her grandson’s baseball games as many as five nights a week.

“The two key measures of the intensity of Nancy’s COPD symptoms have improved. She is expelling more air, and that leads to less air trapped in the lungs. BLVR has reduced the severity of Nancy’s symptoms. That was our goal,” Dr. Adil said.

“My experience has been good,” Knight said. “I am not off oxygen completely, but I can honestly say that I don’t get that shortness of breath that I used to get.”

By early next year, Knight will be eligible to have the BLVR procedure on her left lung. She looks forward to it and to breathing even easier than she is today.

For more information, go to https://www.blessinghealth.org/blvr

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