A woman from Bushey is the first in the country to have a new treatment for patients with a disease affecting the lungs.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were given the chance to take part in a trial treatment at Royal Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals in London.

Gillian Joseph, 72, from Bushey, was diagnosed with emphysema around 18 years ago and her symptoms deteriorated significantly over the last five years.

She said: “After a few steps I couldn’t walk anywhere or do anything. Even something like going to the supermarket was impossible. I hated the way I was and felt old before my time.”

She asked her consultant to refer her to Royal Brompton after hearing about another innovative procedure for COPD carried out at the hospital.

Although her condition meant that particular treatment was not appropriate, she was suitable for the new trial and had the procedure at the end of April.

Mrs Joseph said: “I was noticeably less breathless immediately after having the treatment.

“Now I can go shopping and walk around normally for the first time in years – it feels like a miracle.

"I am still pinching myself because I can’t quite believe it, I am over the moon.

“Best of all it meant that I was in good health when my daughter Sara recently got married.

“I am privileged to have been offered this treatment before so many others – it hasis been an amazing experience.”

COPD is an umbrella term for a collection of conditions causing lung damage, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and affects around three million people in the UK.

Dr Pallav Shah, consultant physician at Royal Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals, said: “Treating the nerves in this way blocks their actions more efficiently than anticholinergic inhalers, which only work temporarily, can have an irregular distribution within the lungs and may cause side-effects such as blurred vision and urine retention in a small number of patients.

“This procedure keeps obstructed airways open to improve breathing and has the potential to provide a permanent improvement for all patients with COPD.”

Experts hope that the one-off treatment, known as targeted lung denervation (TLD), will have permanent benefits and may replace the need for the long-term use of anticholinergic drugs, which are often prescribed for patients with COPD.