J. Brandl from Cologne, Germany

Treatment details:

Age at the time of intervention: 59

Treatment centre: Ruhrlandklinik Essen, Germany

Date of intervention: January 2011

My life before the treatment:

I am a little coward when it comes to doctors and needles which is why I rarely went to see a doctor. In 2004, it became unavoidable. Even though my appointment was for different reasons, I was diagnosed with stage 3 COPD.

COPD was not unfamiliar to me because my father had already suffered from this lung disease. But I had never imagined that I myself would be affected – even though I had been a smoker for many years and was professionally exposed to asbestos/glass wool. I only noticed that I experienced unusual difficulties when carrying heavy loads and walking up stairs, resulting now and then in shortness of breath. I blamed this on excessive stress.

The treatment itself:

I was initially meant to undergo lung volume reduction surgery, but the doctors decided against this and proposed to insert endobronchial valves into my lungs. I did not think about this for long and agreed. Shortly afterwards, I received four valves. After one year, one of them was removed and four others added.

My life after the treatment:

Of course, I had to admit to something: Having the valves in my lungs did not mean that I could run a marathon straight away. My body needed some time to get used to the circumstances. I am not running marathons but since having the valves I am breathing better and staying active.

I do as much as I can and do not put any pressure on myself. One thing is clear: Despite my disease, I do not want to give up on anything. My life today includes for instance respiratory exercises once a week and meeting friends for coffee every Wednesday. I am very active in the Leverkusen COPD self-help group. I have been helping to run this group since 2017. We organized 6 COPD events in Leverkusen in 2020.

My greatest wish since the insertion of the valves was to climb the steps of Cologne cathedral. I trained for this regularly until I succeeded: up the spires of Cologne cathedral and down again.  I thus want to warmly recommend my life’s philosophy to other sufferers: “Have zest for life – despite and defy shortness of breath!”

What is the Zephyr Valve procedure?

The Zephyr Valve is intended for the treatment of patients with severe emphysema – a form of COPD. A physician uses a bronchoscope to place on average 4 tiny valves in the airways to block off the damaged areas of the lungs so air no longer gets trapped there. No cutting or incision is required and the procedure is usually completed in under an hour.

The valve placement allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and relieves the pressure on the diaphragm, which decreases shortness of breath and makes breathing easier. Patients report being able to take full breaths immediately after the procedure and within a few days are back to doing everyday tasks with ease.


The results of case studies do not necessarily allow conclusions to be drawn in other cases. Results in other cases can be different. Possible complications associated with the endobronchial valve treatment include: Pneumothorax, deterioration of the COPD symptoms, pneumonia, dyspnea and in rare cases death.

GLO-EN-783-v1 Patient Story – J. Brandl – January 2021