PHOENIX (Aug. 24, 2021) – A 69-year-old Chandler patient no longer struggles to breathe after receiving new valves for emphysema at Norton Thoracic Institute, part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
“I can’t run a marathon, but I couldn’t run a marathon when I was healthy,” says Bruce Erenberg, who retired to the Valley after a career in the jewelry industry in Chicago. “It’s just kind of being normal – going to the mall and not gasping for air.”
Bruce was diagnosed about 10 years ago with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Unable to breathe freely, he would tire quickly on shopping trips with his wife, Nancy. Even unloading groceries became a daunting task.
In May, Bruce underwent an endobronchial valve procedure at the Norton Thoracic Institute. The treatment, which had previously been offered on a trial basis, reduces lung volume by using tiny one-way valves, which are placed noninvasively into the selected airway, blocking airflow to the most diseased region of the lung. The device allows healthy regions of the lungs to function more efficiently, enabling better breathing.
The procedure has been common in Europe for years but was not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until 2018.
“For patients with severe emphysema, this minimally invasive procedure reduces shortness of breath and significantly improves exercise capacity and quality of life,” says Ali Saeed, MD, Medical Director of Interventional Pulmonology at Norton Thoracic Institute. “I’m delighted that Bruce has had a positive outcome and has resumed normal activities.”
For many valve recipients, improvement is gradual and can take several months.Bruce and his wife noted the difference almost immediately after he was discharged from the hospital.
“Before, I could listen to him breathe,” says Nancy Erenberg. “Now, I don’t hear that labored breathing. Mentally, it’s like night and day. He’s much more upbeat.”
Bruce says he is gradually increasing his time on a treadmill and can exercise for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. And he can breeze through trips to the mall and grocery store without having to stop and catch his breath.
“For so many years, it was like, I want to see morning, but it took me two hours to get myself together because it was so hard to catch my breath,” he says. “Now I look forward to every day.”