PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Burlington County man knew he had to take drastic measures when he was told by one of his doctors that he wouldn't live to see the holidays. He then underwent a life changing procedure.
TJ Turnbull from Riverside, New Jersey showed us how he can now take a deep breath.
"Did you see that? I couldn't do that three months ago. I could not take a deep breath," he said.
Turnbull needed help fast after his doctor gave him a grim diagnosis this past Spring.
"You have to quit smoking or you're as good as dead. You won't see Christmas again," he said.
The lifelong smoker blamed 40 years of cigarettes for his severe emphysema. He said the pain got him to quit 4 years ago, but he was still suffering.
"I was crippled, I couldn't go upstairs. I couldn't go down the block. I couldn't walk the dogs. I certainly couldn't work. I was falling behind on all my bills. I was terrified," he said.
"Bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, it's an attempt to use a bronchoscope to do what surgery does by cutting out an emphysemas piece of tissue," said Dr. Criner.
But instead of cutting, the team used one-way valves to redirect air flow away from the diseased section of the lung into the healthier portion, so that part of the lung breathes more effectively. Dr. Criner said this technique is much less traumatic on the patient.
"This is less invasive, it's really a procedure it takes about 30 to 40 minutes overall, patient stay in the hospital after the procedure for about three days," he said.
For Turnbull the surgery was life-changing.
"I've been phenomenal," he said.
"He's had about a 50-60% improvement in his lung function as well as an improvement in quality of life and improvement in exercise tolerance," said Dr. Criner.
"Three months later I feel like a new man," said Turnbull with a big smile.