Virginia Man Struggling to Breathe Gets Lungs 'Washed'

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When taking a clinical history, Faress realized that neither the immune suppressant nor the anti-inflammatory medications previous doctors had prescribed were helping Epperson to get better. In fact, these drugs made him more susceptible to infection, causing the bouts of pneumonia.

“He is a wonderful person,” Faress said of her patient. “He was still going to work on a huge amount of oxygen and didn’t want to give up. ... There are days we [doctors] get discouraged dealing with very complex cases, but people like Robert give me hope and make me happy about what I am doing.”

Epperson said he felt “awesome” almost immediately after the procedure. “I had the lavage Thursday, and on Friday I felt well enough to drive myself home.”

Today, he is healthy and breathing again, although he will have one more repeat of the lung lavage to keep the PAP at bay.

“Response is variable depending on the patient,” said the surgeon Abdelmalak. “Some have a complete remission forever and others have a remission of four years or two years or three months.”

Epperson said he is looking forward to returning to his main loves – coaching youth sports with his sons and church activities.

“I have never been one to worry because of my beliefs,” he said. “I believe the challenges we face are sometimes miracles – Dr. Abdelmalak and Dr. Faress – we just don’t see them.”

Epperson choked up when he talked about his family. “Several people told me, after the fact, that they were not sure I would make it through. To quote my wife, ‘I was on death’s doorstep.’”

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