Woman with COPD now breathes easier because of help she received at UTHSCT
What could be easier than breathing? You breathe in and then you breathe out.
Your lungs expand and contract without conscious thought.
But, what if you can’t take breathing for granted?
Shirley Vincent of Jasper knows what it’s like to struggle for every breath.
Ten years ago she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of illnesses such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma that block airways and interfere with breathing.
Mrs. Vincent, a longtime smoker who quit in 2002, kept her disease under control until the spring of 2007.
“I had pneumonia twice in March and once in July. I hadn’t had pneumonia for a couple of years. But this time I wasn’t able to find anyone who could help me. I was getting depressed, feeling sick all the time,” she says.
“I saw a doctor in Beaumont, and he told me I’d just have to live with it,” Mrs. Vincent says. Still, she kept searching for someone who could help her.
Then she heard how a pulmonologist at UT Health Northeast had helped another woman with lung disease. Mrs. Vincent first came to UT Health Northeast in July 2007.
“The doctor found that my immune system was very, very low. So now I go to oncology at UT Health Northeast for a gamma globulin infusion once a month,” she says.
Gamma globulin is a protein found in the blood that can be used to prevent or treat infections.
“What I like about my physician is that she tries to find an answer. She doesn’t give up. And UT Health Northeast is a wonderful facility. The people are all so nice,” Mrs. Vincent says.
After seeing a UT Health Northeast pulmonologist for six months, Mrs. Vincent says her health has definitely improved.
“I can breathe better. I’m short of breath, and I’ll always be short of breath. But, I used to not be able to walk across the room,” she says.
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Lung Association. While 11.4 million U.S. adults are thought to have COPD, almost 24 million U.S. adults have impaired lung function, and it’s likely that many of them have undiagnosed COPD.
Smoking is the primary risk factor for the disease, with about 80 to 90 percent of COPD deaths caused by smoking.
In this region, the experts with decades of experience in pulmonary care are at UT Health Northeast. And it’s not exaggerating to say decades.
Five of UT Health Northeast’s pulmonary physicians each have more than 20 years’ experience treating people with lung disease. Three others have been treating lung disease for at least 10 years.
The 19 physicians at UT Health Northeast who deal with lung disease have accumulated almost 400 years of experience in providing pulmonary care.
The Health Science Center has cared for patients with lung diseases since it was founded in 1947.
Throughout 70 years of service, UT Health Northeast’s name has changed, but its mission to provide excellent care to patients with lung disease has not.
Since joining the University of Texas System in 1977, it has been an academic medical center focused on treating lung disease, educating residents and physicians about lung disease, and, through research, developing new treatments for lung disease.
For Mrs. Vincent, the care she receives at UT Health Northeast is well worth the three-hour drive from Jasper.
And she has some advice for anyone in East Texas with lung disease: See a physician at UT Health Northeast at Tyler.