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Patient Stories

Danielle’s Story

My three year journey, or nightmare, began with a viral infection that triggered an additional autoimmune condition. Literally overnight I went from being a healthy 46-year-old, to being unable to breathe or to walk short distances without feeling short of breath. This feeling was distressing and scary given the quick deterioration of my condition. This was difficult for myself, and my family and work colleagues as they had to pick up the additional workload that I could no longer cover due to my shortness of breath. I also experienced fatigue and absent mindedness constantly throughout the three years of my illness.

It was discovered quite early on that I had a paralysed diaphragm through numerous scans and tests. Being from a small town, the doctors were great and referred me to a variety of specialists that they believed could help. However, due to the lack of knowledge of my condition given how rare it is, the doctors and specialists were unable to find a solution that could improve my quality of life. After three years of worsening symptoms, I visited a different GP who referred me to a specialist that knew Dr Cao. This was the turning point in my journey and the beginning of my recovery. Dr Cao was one of the only surgeons in Australia that had the skills and knowledge to offer a robotic diaphragmatic plication. This was such an easy process for me as the patient. There was always great communication and a very short wait time for the surgery. A surgery that would give me my life back.

The surgery was such a success that the moment I woke up I felt like I could breathe again, and that was the best feeling in the world. This is something I won’t take for granted again. The surgery was performed robotically, which was less invasive, therefore the pain throughout the recovery was minimal and I was able to get up and walking the next day. The recovery was quick and I didn’t need anything more than paracetamol after returning home.

I have since been able to start exercising and have returned to a normal life since the operation. I will be forever grateful to Dr Cao and his team for giving me this second chance to enjoy a full life.