Guthrie hosted a clinic today to highlight a lung procedure they offer for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Jeffrey Ammerman, a beneficiary of the procedure, shared his story.

“I recently had the valves put in and prior to that, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you guy’s without gasping for air and trying to breathe,” said Ammerman.

Combating COPD has been a journey, but he said he’s fortunate.

“It is a life-changing process, and you know it might not be right for everybody, but you know, you don’t know till you check it out,” said Ammerman.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 16 million people have been diagnosed with COPD.

“With surgery they shave both sides, with bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, we take one lobe, and we put valves in, and that lung shrinks over the next 6 weeks,” said Hehn. “And as that piece of lung shrinks, it pulls up, and the diaphragm goes from being flat rather than this c-shape that you started with; and the patient has room to breathe,” Hehn added.

Dr. Hehn said there is one thing that will help over time.

“It is a preventable disease,” said Hehn. “The majority of COPD in the United States is smoking related: don’t take it up,” Hehn added. “If you have taken it up, quit, it is never too late,” Hehn said.

Dr. Hehn said that with new medications, his patients have stopped coming to the hospital as much as before.