Woman, 70, becomes first AU patient to test out new sleep apnea cure

Friday, June 14, 2019

The new Inpsire implant uses periodic pulses to act as a pacemaker for breathing, allowing people with sleep apnea like Lottie Burr to sleep through the night. (Source: WRDW)

News 12 at 5 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleeping disorder, but doctors at Augusta University have come up with a new way to treat it.

"If I got 2 hours of sleep at night, that was good," said 70-year-old Lottie Burr. For Burr, sleeping 8 hours at night was more of a dream than a reality. She is one of more than 22 million Americans who suffers from sleep apnea. She is also the first local patient to try out Inspire, AU's new solution to the disorder.

Inspire is an implant surgically placed under the skin of the neck and chest. It acts like a pacemaker for breathing as opposed to the heart.

"What did I have to lose, you know?" said Burr. "I wasn't sleeping at night anyway, and I was waking up choking, so I could have really died in my sleep."

Burr's problem is her tongue. Her Inspire implant is wired to send periodic pulses to prevent her from swallowing her tongue as she sleeps.

Burr said the device is not noticeable as she sleeps, keeping her undisturbed as she gets a full night's rest.

"Eight hours. Good night sleep. Rested and everything," said Burr.

And now Burr's dream of getting a full night of rest has become a reality.

"This is a life-saver for me," she said.