New Zephyr valve procedure changes life of woman with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

9/28/2023 - Galesburg, Illinois

  • Mary Smith from Wataga, IL

Mary Smith from Wataga, Illinois, had smoked for 50 years when she promised her dying mother she would stop smoking. Mary’s mother passed away from lung cancer shortly after that promise. Not only did her mother pass away from lung cancer, but her father did too and her brother died from throat cancer.

Unfortunately, much of the damage had already been done to Mary’s lungs. Diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Mary was given an oxygen tank to help her breathe.


“I couldn’t even walk down the hallway and back without having my oxygen tank on,” said Mary. “I knew I had to stop smoking. I didn’t want to break the promise I gave to my mother.”


Mary used Nicorette gum to help curb her cravings for nicotine, and then she eventually kept the promise she had given her mother. She quit smoking.


During a visit with Dr. Usman Cheema, a pulmonologist at OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center, Mary was presented with an option to undergo a Zephyr valve procedure. Mary agreed to have the procedure.


The Zephyr valve procedure is a minimally invasive medical treatment for patients with severe emphysema. During the procedure, tiny one-way valves called Zephyr endobronchial valves are placed in the lung’s airways. These valves allow trapped air to escape from the damaged parts of the lung, reducing lung hyperinflation and improving the patient's ability to breathe.

“I’m so thankful I went through this procedure,” said Mary. “It has totally changed my life. I no longer need my oxygen tank. It doesn’t take me five minutes anymore to catch my breath. I want others to know that this procedure saved my life.”


Dr. Cheema agrees, “I want others to know about the Zephyr valve procedure and how it can help them breathe better.”


Mary can now exercise, walk down the hallway and sweep and mop her floors without breathing issues.

“One of the biggest things I want people to know is that there’s no recovery period for this procedure,” said Mary. “I had immediate results.”

If you want to learn more about the Zephyr valve procedure, call the OSF Medical Group – Lung & Pulmonology office at 3315 N. Seminary St. in Galesburg at (309) 344-1000.




Carrie McCance
Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
(309) 344-3161 x61102