SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Memorial Medical Center received recertification for its lung volume reduction surgery program.

Lung volume reduction surgery offers an improvement for patients who suffer from severe emphysema. Dr. Stephen Hazelrigg, a professor and chairman for cardiothoracic surgery for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine has performed this surgery for more than 465 patients in Springfield.

"These patients are at a stage where there really isn't anything else," he explained. "It's not like there are other medicines or things that can be done."

Emphysema is a progressively destructive lung disease in which the walls between the tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged. The lungs lose their elasticity, and exhaling is very difficult. William Lacey is from Mt. Zion and had the LVRS in June of 2018. Originally from Springfield, he said before the surgery he was living in Kentucky and was told by a doctor only 20% of his lungs were working, and he needed a transplant.

"I went to my granddaughter's birthday party at a horse farm, and I couldn't walk. I couldn't do anything. It was awful. It was horrible," said Lacey.

Lacey said he decided to move back to central Illinois, because this is where his kids and grandchildren lived. He was worried that with the way life was going, he was going to die.

"I didn't think I was going to be around much longer. I wanted [his wife] her to be close to family," he explained.

Back in central Illinois, Lacey and his wife were able to meet with doctors at Memorial Medical Center to talk about LVRS. He became involved in the program in 2017 and met with Dr. Hazzelrigg. After a series of tests, Lacey was cleared for what he considers his life saving surgery from Dr. Hazelrigg.

"He turned my life around. He saved my life."

Dr. Hazelrigg said there is no cure for emphysema, but there is room for improvement with the patients who meet the criteria like Lacey.

On Wednesday, Dr. Hazlerigg and the medical staff with LVRS will meet for their 12th annual reunion. This is the opportunity for people from all over the Midwest who had LVRS to come back together and meet with the staff. Dr. Hazlerigg said each year he gets emotional because he gets very attached to each of his patients.

The recertification for LVRS is from the Joint Commission Certification. The LVRS program at Memorial Medical Center undergoes an extensive onsite evaluation by a commission reviewer. Memorial first earned certification for its LVRS in December 2006 and received its first recertification two years after that. The Joint Commission conducts reviews approximately every two years of certified programs.

For more information about lung volume reduction surgery, call 217-545-0342 or click here.

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