GIVING THE GIFT OF COMFORT - Institute for Respiratory Health


Sadly, Chris lost her husband Rod to mesothelioma, but thanks to the research and a clinical program from researchers at the Institute for Respiratory Health, Rod was able to spend his last months at home with his family instead of being in hospital.

Like many other West Australians, Rod had been exposed to asbestos, breathing in the fibres we now know cause asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Chris and Rod met Prof Gary Lee, a respiratory specialist and researcher at the Institute for Respiratory Health after a referral from Rod’s doctor.

Professor Lee explained that Rod had developed a pleural effusion – a build-up of excess fluid in his pleural cavity that was caused by mesothelioma. The litres of fluid kept building up, compressing his lung, and he couldn’t breathe.

At first Chris and Rod would spend a whole day travelling to hospital, waiting in clinic and then having the doctors remove his excess fluid. But then Professor Lee offered a new service where he would place a special indwelling pleural catheter in Rod so they could drain the fluid themselves at home. Chris and Rod jumped at the chance!

This treatment allowed Rod so much more freedom and quality of life. When the fluid built up and Rod felt uncomfortable, Chris would drain it and he could breathe again.

It also helped their grandchildren to see Rod’s illness as something less frightening. Their eldest granddaughter, then four, even wanted to ‘help Nanny’. Chris bought her a little nurse toy pack and she wrote down Grandad’s treatment in her little note pad – ‘Nanny’s put the tube in; Grandad’s had a snake to eat (his medicine); Grandad’s having his drain’.

We need more research to make sure everyone with a chronic lung disease can live healthy lives. Please consider making a gift to respiratory research in lieu of flowers to honour your loved one who is no longer with us.