Cutting-edge asthma treatment gives Gerda a new lease on life

I lie awake thinking about all the things I can now do with my life!

Friday, January 31 2014

A simple newspaper article about a cutting-edge new treatment for chronic asthma sufferers was all it took for Pretoria resident, Gerda Oosthuizen (43), to make a decision that has since changed her life for the better. After many long years of suffering from the debilitating disease, UCT Private Academic Hospital in Cape Town finally gave Gerda the ability to live a normal life away from hospital emergency departments and oxygen masks.

With her friends and family sponsoring her transport costs to Cape Town, Gerda recently made her way to the hospital to undergo bronchial thermoplasty. UCT Private Academic and Groote Schuur hospitals are the only accredited facilities on the African continent to offer bronchial thermoplasty treatment.

Approximately 10% of adults who suffer from asthma are unable to control the disease properly, even with the use of medication. Unfortunately Gerda was one of the unlucky ones. She was diagnosed with asthma as a teenager, 23 years ago, with her condition steadily deteriorating in recent years. Even with medication, Gerda struggled to live a normal life, with health scares and emergency visits to hospital becoming an all too familiar occurrence.

Living with severe asthma was a continuous uphill struggle for Gerda, with her condition placing a huge burden on her family, finances and job. At one stage she was forced to resign after her asthma became especially bad as she shared an office with a smoker and constantly had to take time off work. The stress of having to pay for the asthma medication while at the same time looking after her three sons and husband also placed a tremendous strain on Gerda and her family.

Luckily Gerda’s fortune changed when her physiotherapist, who had read the article in the newspaper, told her of the bronchial thermoplasty procedure. As it is such a new procedure, few people are aware that this life changing treatment is offered by UCT Private Academic and Groote Schuur hospitals.

Bronchial thermoplasty is a complementary procedure which permanently opens constricted airways. This is done using a catheter to deliver heat energy which reduces the smooth muscle lining in the airways. It can provide relief for chronic and acute asthmatics. This is the first non-drug related treatment for asthma and it is proving to be a very promising technology for patients who have battled to control their condition.

Specialist physician and pulmonologist, Professor Keertan Dheda, head of pulmonology at UCT Medical School and director of the Centre for Chest Disease at UCT Private Academic Hospital, said Gerda’s procedure was a success. According to Prof Dheda, “UCT Private Academic and Groote Schuur hospitals are at the forefront of utilising state-of-the-art technologies to remain internationally competitive and to improve a broad range of respiratory conditions.” He points out that bronchial thermoplasty is not a cure for asthma, but significantly reduces patients’ dependence on medication while improving their quality of life.

The procedure is done in three separate sessions, each focusing on different sections of the airways. “After the first procedure I didn’t really feel a difference, but my lungs felt a lot clearer after the second procedure and it was much easier for me to breathe.”

Gerda still has one more treatment to go but is already experiencing a new lease on life. “Thanks to this procedure, I lie awake at night thinking about all the things I can now do with my life. I am very excited,” she says.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of UCT Private Academic Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Jillian Penaluna or Sarah Beswick
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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