Wanda Oropeza’s severe adult-onset asthma kept her confined to her home like a prisoner. “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t play with my grandkids. I couldn’t run errands. I kept ending up in the emergency room with respiratory failure. I was at the point where I was about to start making funeral arrangements,” Oropeza remembers.
After seeing multiple physicians during her 10-year battle with the disease, Oropeza was referred to Dr. Jose Melendez, a pulmonary specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital.
“The condition of Wanda’s lungs was one of the worst cases I’d ever seen. I could see the suffering on her face during her first appointment. Because she’d already tried all the common therapies for asthma, along with her depleted quality of life, she was a great candidate for bronchial thermoplasty,” says Dr. Melendez.
Bronchial thermoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to reduce excess smooth muscle in the lungs.
“By having less muscle, people have less airway constriction during an asthma attack and fewer attacks overall,” says Dr. Melendez.
The entire treatment is completed over three sessions, with each session focusing on a different part of the lungs.
“Bronchial thermoplasty can make a huge difference in the lives of people who don’t have control over their asthma with common treatments like inhalers. Usually, patients start seeing relief after the first treatment, with the greatest relief coming within months after we complete all three treatments,” says Dr. Melendez.
Oropeza says undergoing the procedure gave her a second chance at life.
“I could really tell how much my lung capacity improved when I got my first cold. Previously, a cold would’ve sent me to the ER,” adds Oropeza. “ The fact that I was able to breathe, even when sick, was a huge improvement.”
Thanks to the procedure, Oropeza is more active than ever.
“Now I’m babysitting my grandkids. I go for walks and play with my animals. This procedure has made all the difference,” says Oropeza. “Plus, I am on my way to tapering off the oral steroid medication I was on, which caused me to experience swelling and weight gain. That’s just a bonus!”