Dr. Mahler Article
Published on Thursday, July 7, 2016 Eagle Times
New Clinical Resource Centers expand treatment and support for Alphas
The 72-year-old woman realized that her old smoking habit was not the only reason for her breathing problems. She had just been diagnosed with a genetic cause, too.
Donald A. Mahler, MD, FCCP
“She had felt so guilty about having COPD/emphysema from her smoking in the past,” said her physician, Donald A. Mahler, MD, FCCP, a pulmonologist at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH. “Knowing that part of the reason for her COPD was hereditary was comforting to her, and knowing that treatment was available was reassuring. She informed family members of the diagnosis so that they could inform their healthcare provider to be tested.”
The woman was one of many patients that Mahler has treated over the years for lung disease. He always tests his lung patients for Alpha-1, just to rule it out as the cause.
“Most patients appreciate knowing whether they do or do not have a hereditary form of emphysema, and augmentation treatment is available,” Mahler said. “It may also provide some peace of mind knowing that emphysema was not entirely due to smoking cigarettes and/or inhaling irritants in the air.”
Mahler is one of 11 new doctors at Alpha-1 Foundation Clinical Resource Centers (CRCs) around the country. The CRC physicians, totaling 86 across North America, specialize in patient care, education and research for people who have Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1).
Some centers treat lung disease and others focus on liver disease. Many provide links to other resources for Alphas, including support groups, pulmonary rehabilitation and organ transplant programs.
“Clinical Resource Centers around the country have doctors who specialize in Alpha-1, and they have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with the best personal treatment that is available,” said Kathy Welch, manager of program administration at the Alpha-1 Foundation, which oversees the CRC program.
Most states have CRCs, but for many that do not, there are centers in other states nearby. The Foundation offers a program that may help defray travel costs for patients to visit the nearest doctors in the network who are still at some distance away.
The Foundation also welcomes applications from doctors who are knowledgeable about Alpha-1, but are not yet in the Foundation’s CRC network.