Anette Olesen from Denmark

Treatment details:

Age at treatment: 47

Hospital: Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen/Denmark

Date of procedure: October 2020

Life Before Zephyr® Valves

Before I was diagnosed with COPD, I was positive, outgoing, happy and active. I used to play handball, coach a handball team and I loved caring for people — both in my role as a community mental health visitor, and at home as a wife and mum.

Being a mum has always been a big part of my identity. I’m married with two daughters who are 14 and 20. Becoming unwell robbed me of my ability to care for my loved ones in the way I wanted to.

I worked for the council, visiting people with mental health problems. I’d climb the stairs to their apartments and check in on them. It was very rewarding. That all changed when I was diagnosed with COPD. I had to park right outside people’s apartments to make sure I had enough air to actually talk to them. Climbing the stairs was exhausting.

Having smoked, I was diagnosed with COPD in 2018. The doctor gave me inhalers, but they didn’t make much difference. So I joined an 8-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme. The trouble was, I couldn’t even do the exercises because I was so breathless. I showed up every week and did my best to keep up.

My condition just kept getting worse. It got to the point where I couldn’t move from my bed to the couch. I couldn’t do the laundry or the cleaning. Climbing the stairs at work became impossible. Grocery shopping was a nightmare. I had to think really hard about where to park the car so I had enough air. This was no way to live. Watching my quality of life diminish hit my husband and my children hard. They could see how bad I was getting. They were terrified I was going to die.

On my daughter’s birthday, I was taken to hospital with severe pneumonia. I was given non-invasive ventilation treatment. My condition was bad, but I recovered.

I first heard about Zephyr Valve treatment when the Chest Physician at my local hospital suggested that I’d be a good candidate. He wanted to refer me to Rigshospitalet for further tests. I said yes, please do — I was desperate to get some quality of life back.

Life After Zephyr Valves

I was seen by MD Kristine Jensen at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen. She did additional testing and gave me the more specific emphysema diagnosis, a form of severe COPD. She confirmed I was suitable for treatment and helped me prepare. Chest Physician Michael Perch carried out the Zephyr Valve procedure for me in October 2020. I was 47.

I had two short procedures to get my Zephyr Valves in place. After the second procedure, I saw an incredible improvement within two days. I had so much air! I wasn’t breathless any more. I could climb the stairs easily.

I had to stay in hospital for a couple of days because of a known side effect called pneumothorax (a collapsed lung). They took great care of me and after a few days was cleared to go home.

When I got home, I was over the moon — I had my quality of life back! I could climb the stairs, park anywhere I liked, do the laundry and walk the dog every day without feeling breathless.

Now, I finally feel like a mum again! I can lovingly care for my family again like I always used to. I’m able to coach the handball team again. And now, I can actually train with them which was impossible before. I’m back at work too, with no limitations. Such a relief!

I have to admit, I sometimes forget to take my medication. I feel so alive! I could almost forget I’ve got COPD/emphysema.

What would I say to anyone with severe emphysema who is eligible for the Zephyr Valves?

Do it! I have no doubt at all. Even though I experienced a side effect, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. My quality of life is back! I’m finally able to be a mum and wife again.

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-862-v1 DK Patient Story – Anette Olesen