Breath of life

Transplant patient Michael Clapham says he owes his life to the respiratory nurses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who have helped him cope with breathlessness caused by emphysema.

With their help, he gave up smoking and embarked on an exercise regime to improve the flow of oxygen to his heart and lungs. “The pulmonary rehabilitation clinic at NNUH is one of the best in the country and literally saves lives,” the 62-year-old commented. “If I hadn’t had their support and encouragement I would never have been fit enough to have my transplant.”

In March 2005 Michael, of Norwich, underwent a double lung transplant at Papworth Hospital. This was initially rejected and caused him to suffer a perforated bowel. After an emergency operation at NNUH, however, he is doing well and says the transplant has given him a new lease of life.

“Before the operation, I needed oxygen and had to use a wheelchair to get about, but now I have a pair of lungs that are in better shape than the rest of my body!”

While he is grateful for the transplant, Michael reserves most of his praise for the respiratory team who “really are a lifeline for patients who suffer with breathlessness”.

He is a leading member of the Norwich Breathe Easy group – one of 120 support groups around the country that meet on a monthly basis to share information and raise funds for research into COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and says the respiratory nurses are vital to the success of the group.

Patients with COPD are also benefiting from a new initiative, launched in January, to allow them to be discharged from hospital under medical supervision. Many need to come into hospital on a regular basis – now they can return home sooner and have their treatment managed by a team of specialist outreach nurses.

Other specialist nurses in Respiratory Medicine manage patients with a range of conditions including cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, asthma and lung cancer.

NNUH respiratory consultant Dr Simon Watkins said: “The work of our specialist nurses cuts across traditional health boundaries and helps us to develop innovative, high-quality services for our patients.”

Tuesday 13th of September 2005 10:00:24 AM