Home>>Otolaryngology>>Patient Testimonial: Chun-Yung Lin, Age 47, Tumor Patient
Chun-Yung Lin, Age 47, Tumor Patient

Chun-Yung Lin knew his family vacation to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon would be full of beautiful sights, but he never expected the trip would literally take his breath away.

Diagnosed with asthma at age 33, Chun-Yung wasn’t too worried when he began to experience trouble breathing during his vacation. He was used to being dependent on his inhaler and nebulizer breathing machine, which he had brought along with him. But things continued to get worse and at times Chun-Yung found he was barely able to stand.

Chun-Yung’s niece Manda Lai, a medical student, was concerned for her uncle’s health. She convinced him to rebook a direct flight back to Detroit instead of his original ticket to transfer in Philadelphia. That decision may have been the first step in saving his life.

“On the way home I could tell things were becoming much more severe,” said Chun-Yung. “On the plane the power was not stable and my breathing machine wasn’t functioning. I could barely breathe at all.”

The flight attendant took a reading of Chun-Yung’s oxygen level and discovered it was dangerously low. He was given small oxygen tanks while the pilot and crew discussed whether or not to conduct an emergency landing.

The decision was made to stay the planned course and to have an ambulance waiting for Chun-Yung at the gate. Upon arrival on Christmas Day in Detroit, Chun-Yung collapsed and fell in to a coma for three days. When he awoke he found himself in the intensive care unit at Oakwood Hospital, unable to speak.

“When I woke up I had no idea what was going on. I tried to talk but I couldn’t. My voice wasn’t working and I found out I had a tracheostomy. I thought the problem was just my asthma and I told doctor in writing that I needed to go home because I didn’t want my family to worry,” said Chun-Yung.

Chun-Yung had been accustomed to urgent care visits as a result of what he thought was just severe asthma, but this time was different. The doctors at Oakwood had discovered a lesion at the back of his tongue that was almost completely blocking his airway.

Thankfully, a biopsy found the lesion was not cancerous but rather a hemangioma, or a benign tumor resulting from an abnormal buildup of blood vessels. It needed to be surgically removed in order to allow Chun-Yung to breathe.

He was transferred to Harper University Hospital in Detroit to be treated by Dr. Ho-Sheng Lin, a highly acclaimed otolaryngologist with the Wayne State University Physician Group and leader in the field of robotic head and neck surgery.

Using the precision of the da Vinci® Surgical System, Dr. Lin was able to successfully remove the lesion and unblock Chun-Yung’s airway. Today, Chun-Yung is able to breathe and speak normally.

Chun-Yung said he was comfortable and confident going into the procedure because Dr. Lin explained everything thoroughly – especially how the minimally invasive robotic technology would reduce his recovery time.

“Knowing that he graduated from Yale, did his fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology at Stanford and that he brought this robotic technology here made me feel very lucky to have Dr. Lin as my surgeon,” said Chun-Yung. “I think about what might have happened if I would’ve waited to come home from my trip or if the plane had landed in another state. I’m just so thankful for Dr. Lin.”

Dr. Lin will continue to monitor Chun-Yung to ensure the growth does not reappear. But Chun-Yung says even if he does need another surgery in the future, he knows Dr. Lin will get the job done right.

“There have been a lot of advances in technology but in the end it still takes a good surgeon to be successful,” said Chun-Yung. “I’m just so grateful to Dr. Lin for saving my life.”