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Healthwatch 16: New sleep apnea solution

A pastor in Northumberland County is sleeping well these days after finding a solution for her sleep apnea.

WATSONTOWN, Pa. — Pastors James and Jilline Bond work to serve the people of Revival Tabernacle Church near Watsontown. But something many church members did not know was that Jilline had struggled with sleep apnea for more than five years. Jilline tried several different CPAP machines, but they made her claustrophobic.

"It was waking me up in the middle of the night. It felt like air was blowing into my face. It was interrupting my sleep more than not using it," Jilline said.

Last summer, Jilline saw an ad for "Inspire" on social media. Earlier this year, she had the device implanted under her skin. It is controlled with a remote and opens a person's airway, allowing them to breathe normally.

"What this device does is instead of pushing air down, which is what CPAP does—it pushes air down into your throat to get into your lungs—it's moving the obstruction out of the way. The most common thing that gets in the way is the tongue," explained Dr. Neerav Goyal, division chief of head and neck surgical oncology at Penn State Health Milton Hershey Medical Center.

Dr. Goyal says the Inspire device is changing the game for many people who suffer from sleep apnea. He compares it to a pacemaker.

"Instead of pacing the heart, this device is pacing the tongue, and it paces the tongue relative to your breath," Dr. Goyal said.

"I go camping. I travel around the world. I can take this with me and just push this button, and I'm set for a good night's sleep," said Jilline.

For a busy pastor like Jilline, a good night's sleep is a necessity.

"It's an amazing attribute to living a healthy life for me. I can't even give God thanks enough that I found this and that I have an amazing surgeon."

Dr. Goyal says implanting the inspire device is becoming more popular. He's already booked for the next year.