CHARLOTTE -- A cutting-edge procedure for patients suffering with asthma is taking off across North Carolina.
It is called bronchial thermoplasty and is now offered for the first time at CMC-University in Charlotte. In a series of three surgeries, it heats the airways in the lungs and shrinks the muscle tissue that constricts during an asthma attack.
"There wasn't anything else until now,” said life-long asthma sufferer Wendy Myers. “I've done it all. I took the bad drugs just to be able to be on my feet, but there was nothing left.”
She lost her son, Jamey, five months ago due to asthmatic complications from pneumonia.
"It's not supposed to be him before me," she said.
"This is a procedure for people with asthma that need to use a rescue inhaler at least two-three times a week, above their normal base line inhaled medications," said Dr. Michael Zgoda, the first at CMC-University to offer the procedure.
While it takes a few days to recover, Myers says she has already seen significant improvement. Her daily list of medications is dwindling and she says little things like walking up the stairs are no longer the obstacles they once were.
"My goal the whole time was to get off steroids, but I can see it's going to be so much more," said Myers.
She says she wishes her son could have benefited from this surgery but hopes sharing her story will give others the courage to look into this life-saving procedure.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one million North Carolinians suffer from asthma, including one in ten school children.
Bronchial thermoplasty was approved by the FDA in 2010. Only six physicians across the state are trained or training to offer the procedure.