Woman sitting in greenhouse.

Department: Island Pulmonology

Respiratory Resilience

Sandy Mason knew something was wrong. When she and her husband moved from northern California to Spokane, the active retiree started having trouble breathing. She had always enjoyed horseback riding, skiing and gymnastics, but now she was struggling. At first, she attributed it to the altitude. But she knew her body, and something wasn’t right. She found a pulmonologist and was eventually diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, an inherited genetic condition. Sandy’s liver does not produce the enzyme that helps protect the lungs. Now, she uses oxygen at night and wears a mask whenever she is around people or outside in temperatures below 60 degrees.

When Sandy and her husband moved to Concrete last fall to be near their sons and grandchildren, she knew she had to find a pulmonologist. Enter Dr. Seth Hartung and the Island Pulmonology clinic.

She also praises the entire staff at Island Pulmonology. In addition to being fast, welcoming and enthusiastic, they helped her through insurance and referral issues when setting up her weekly infusions needed to treat Alpha-1. These infusions give her body the enzyme that her liver cannot produce. And while this will not eliminate the deficiency, it can curtail the progress of lung damage from pollution or environmental dust.

Sandy is grateful for the care she received and is living the healthiest life she can. She’s had to cut out much of her former physical activity, and she takes precautions, like mask-wearing and avoiding polluted environments, to prevent trips to the emergency department. Dr. Hartung was inspired by her tenacity and self-advocacy.

Woman standing in a greenhouse next to plants and flowers.

“She works diligently to do whatever it takes to avoid exacerbations, and that’s all one can ask of a patient,” Dr. Hartung said.

To learn more about Island Pulmonology and determine if a pulmonologist can help you breathe better, please contact us at 360.299.4273.

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