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Pete’s Story: Severe COPD

Pete has suffered from the symptoms of his severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has had difficulty breathing for the past ten years. For years he dealt with the related issues, but in the past few months he ended up in the hospital from exacerbation attacks and after watching both of his parents suffer from the same condition, he knew something had to be done.

“Like both of my parents, I was a smoker and of course also ended up with COPD,” says Pete. “When my symptoms became too much to manage, I knew that El Camino Hospital was the place to go for treatment because it was where my mother went for years for her COPD. From her experience, I knew the treatment I would receive would be top notch.”

Pete started seeing a pulmonologist every three months. At one of these appointments, they discussed the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program in Mountain View as an option. However, in order to participate, you must first take a pulmonary function test to assess lung health, which Pete promptly failed. Luckily, his pulmonologist directed him to Dr. Ganesh Krishna, a doctor at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, part of Sutter Health, who specializes in interventional pulmonology, the use of minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat lung cancer, lung nodules, severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung disorders.

After his failure of the pulmonary function test, Pete and Dr. Krishna started looking at treatment options which would help his condition and allow him to participate in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

“Dr. Krishna suggested this brand-new, minimally invasive lung reduction treatment that uses implanted valves to redirect the air in your lungs, shrinking the hyperinflation I was suffering from,” says Pete.

The procedure, which uses the Zephyr endobronchial values, had recently been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. At the time, it was only available at select hospitals that were part of clinical research trials to get the device approved. In fact, Pete was the first patient at El Camino Hospital and on the West Coast to have the procedure performed outside of the clinical trial.

After his procedure, Pete was cleared to begin the pulmonary rehab program and today he feels significantly stronger and has increased lung capacity.

“I like to say that I’m a work in progress, but I do feel much better,” says Pete. “I recently completed the pulmonary rehab program and also just had my last follow-up visit with Dr. Krishna. I feel much stronger than before. I’ve joined the YMCA and plan to continue to keep my body moving and keep working on my exercise for my heart and my lungs.”

“Dr. Krishna is an amazing man and I am very happy he works at El Camino Hospital. He is a confident and caring doctor and I found him to be very open and easy to talk to. I am so glad he and the hospital’s research team had completed the medical trials and then that he suggested I try the procedure,” continues Pete.

“As far as my stay at the hospital, it was fantastic because of the staff. The rehab team gave me the tools to help strengthen my body and the encouragement to keep going.”

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