Local Man Receives Breakthrough Sleep Apnea Implant

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Imagine sleeping, but only breathing a few minutes out of each hour you're at rest. Add on some extreme snoring and you've got an unhealthy combination.

That was the reality for an 82-year-old Lincoln man. After suffering from a rare form of sleep apnea, he decided to get some help.

Loran Swanson is a pool shark. He also plays softball. But his life hasn't always been enjoyable.

"I was stopping breathing 60 times every hour while I was asleep, not knowing it," Swanson said.

Grouchiness and fatigue began to rule his days so he volunteered for a clinical study, becoming one of only 49 in the world to have a device implanted in his chest.

"An electrode has to be threaded form the device down along a particular vein called the phrenic vein. The vein is what stimulates your diaphragm and makes you breathe," said Dr. Andrew Merliss, a Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Bryan Heart Institute in Lincoln.

It's a little bigger than pacemaker but it gave Swanson, and 48 others, a whole lot more sleep.

"It's given me more energy. It's really given me the prospect of a better quality of life," Swanson said.

But the device isn't for everyone.

"It really does work for this particular type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is a much rarer form that you hear about or read about, people using machines," Dr. Merliss said.

All forms of sleep apnea commonly go undiagnosed but Swanson hopes his actions will change that.

"Why I did this? Well I wanted to give back to other people. My life has been pretty good so far," Swanson said.