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Don's Story

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Interstitial Lung Disease

After walking down his driveway to pick up the newspaper one morning, Don was so out of breath that he needed to rest before returning home. An avid skier since his teens, Don knew the walk should have been easy compared to racing down steep and icy slopes. Something was wrong.

Don  — Temple Health patient diagnosed with nonspecific interstitial pneumonia

“I’ve been healthy my whole life,” says Don. “For 70 years I was fine, and then suddenly I couldn’t go up the stairs or shower without losing my breath. I also started coughing.”

Unable to receive a clear diagnosis from his local pulmonologist, Don’s health remained in question for another year. He and his wife, Marianne, knew the reputation of Temple Health through their ads. They decided it was “time to go to a teaching hospital” where a focus on education and research might provide an answer.

Receiving a diagnosis

At the Temple Lung Center, Don’s new doctor ran several tests, including a high-resolution CT scan of the chest. The scan revealed that Don had a pattern of lung injury known as nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP), a type of interstitial lung disease that affects the tissue around the lungs, this rare disorder is most common in women. The cause of NSIP is unknown.

Temple’s Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to diagnose and treat patients with ILD. A team of doctors uses noninvasive, high-resolution imaging to diagnose most patients, which often allows for an accurate diagnosis without need for an invasive lung biopsy.

To have my case presented, and then have everyone thinking about it and giving their expert opinions is a fantastic benefit.


Benefiting from treatment research

For treatment, Don’s doctor and pharmacist collaborated to develop a drug therapy plan with the steroid Prednisone. A few months later, Don was able to slowly wean off Prednisone and manage his disease with Mycophenolate Mofetil, an immunosuppressive drug typically used by patients who receive a lung transplant.

During this time, Temple’s ILD Program was carrying out an observational study to determine which patients may benefit most from this medication. Don’s case benefited from early results of this research.

Back to enjoying life

Don with his granddaughter, Kaylin

Today, Don’s cough and breathing are under control and he is back to hitting the slopes. He recently enjoyed a family trip to Vermont where he introduced the sport to his granddaughter, Kaylin.

“My wife and I have been skiing our whole lives. [After my diagnosis], I never thought I’d be able to do it again,” shares Don. “Now, I get to ski again and share it with my grandchildren! I owe it all to Temple.”

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