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Despite initial anxiety, Alison Ambrose had a bronchoscopy as part of the Oxford Airways Study and would recommend volunteering to help research efforts into the condition.

Asthma still claims many lives. It claimed my husband's sister who died from an asthma attack on a train when she was only in her late twenties and just married. Me and members of my family have the condition and it has really affected our day to day lives.

I joined the Oxford Airways Study which is looking at the causes of asthma. As part of the study, I volunteered to have a bronchoscopy allowing researchers to collect samples from my lungs which may help to identify causes of asthma in me and other patients.

I was very nervous before the procedure. I had spoken to the Research fellow at length on the phone and had contacted the team with practical questions such as what I had to wear and whether I could still keep my wedding ring on!!

I was greeted at the Oxford Experimental Clinical Research Facility (or EMCRF for short) by a really friendly smiley nurse who showed me to a seat. She proceeded to take my temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels. She did try as well as other nurses did to take blood samples and put in a cannula, but I think because of my extreme nerves it was impossible at that time. In the end Professor Timothy Hinks came and played some soothing Chopin music in an attempt to release the blood from my veins. I thought this was really kind of him. But alas even Chopin could not relax my veins so as time ticked on he decided just to put in a cannula and do the bloods later. A nurse did a Covid test which was fortunately negative.

The team perform a research bronchoscopy in the new Oxford EMCRF facilityBronchoscopy procedure










Then I was taken into the room where the bronchoscopy was going to be performed. I felt overwhelmed with nerves and I thought that I was going to have a panic attack. However, the anaesthetist was so good as she clasped my hand and calmed me. I was given some sedative into the cannula and put protective glasses on.

The bronchoscopy started but I did not realise the camera was being inserted. One of my worst fears was that I would choke and bring up a lot of blood. Instead, I did not find it uncomfortable, and I did not even feel any sensation of the camera being inserted or samples being taken. My fears of swallowing the camera, having a lung puncture or blood clots emerging did not manifest themselves at all!

I was far too scared to look at the screen but I have been so grateful to see the photographs of the procedure since and the ones of inside my lungs.

At the end the Research fellow said that he was going to spray my throat. Afterwards I just had a sore throat and was a bit hoarse. I did have a small amount of blood stained phlegm but it was negligible. I did not have any fever or chest pain or wheeziness.

I am so glad that I agreed to my bronchoscopy despite my anxiety. Research will be a positive way forward to help people manage their conditions and hopefully prevent death from asthma and other airway diseases. So, if anyone was thinking about having a bronchoscopy I would certainly encourage them to do so.