The history of Linda’s Breath begins with the story of Linda Hughes. Linda suffered from multiple pneumonias and lung infections throughout her life. After she was diagnosed with bronchiectasis in 1986, she and her husband Arthur “Art” Hughes spent years fighting the disease with every available medication and treatments, including supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day starting in 1992, and trying every available methods and devices in attempts to clear her airways. In 1996 her doctors told her she had perhaps 3 months to live. She and Art came up with a strikingly creative idea. All the devices she tried could only try to help her airways from outside the body. These devices were and still are cumbersome, expensive and could only produce limited results by essentially mechanically pounding the chest and back.
Their idea was inspired. After trying everything, they thought about sound, and using sound to vibrate the inside of the lungs instead of pummeling the chest or back. If they could resonate the secretions, would that not be much better than shaking? Within an hour, Art built the first acoustic vibrating device, delivering sound waves directly into the lungs, to clear the airways. It was a chile can, a speaker, the electronics to make it work, and a piece of plastic tubing for a mouthpiece. The chile was Hatch brand, which may or may not have improved the can, but was great for them to eat later that day.
The new acoustic airway vibrating device worked! Within a few weeks, Linda’s doctor was amazed at her improvement. Over the weeks and months, they kept improving the device to a high degree of efficacy, and eventually called the device Vibralung. Linda grew much better, after 7 months doubling lung functions, able to handle normal activities, and was even able to stop needing oxygen, even going up to one of the highest mountains in Colorado without oxygen. Long term, Linda only had to use the Vibralung device about twice per week. She outlived her doctors’ predictions by 26 times longer with a wonderful quality of life. Linda passed away six and a half years later from unrelated cancer.
Linda and Art went on to form VibraLung, Inc. to bring the new airway clearance device to the millions of patients who can benefit from clearing mucus and inflamatory mediators from their airways. Some time after Linda’s passing, Art remarried, and his new wife Lucille contributed her computer science knowledge to help obtain FDA 510(k) clearance for the VibraLung, which happened in May 2014. She continues to be an integral part of the effort to help patients breathe better and feels honored to be part of this wonderful legacy.
Today, VibraLung, Inc. is the technology leader in airway clearance devices.
In the summer of 2017, Art was looking for a place to donate his large collection of technical electronics publications and Lucille, with a little sleuthing, found the International Vacuum Tube Museum. When they went to one of the Museum’s storage facilities with his publications, they met Charles Bacon, the founder of the Museum. They all ended up talking for a long time, enjoying each other’s experiences, ideas and philosophies. One thing led to another, and Art asked Charles if he could help VibraLung, Inc. with a variety of projects and tasks, and hired Charles’ firm, Due Diligence, Inc.
One of the tasks given to Charles was looking at all the possible scenarios that VibraLung could consider for the future. Amongst the many business scenarios and ideas for VibraLung to improve its long-term success, Charles also discovered there was no nonprofit organization focused on the airway clearance arena, and recommended creating a serious nonprofit to help patients, discover new science, design new medicine, etc. Over many months, the ideas germinated, grew, and flourished. In early 2018, the VibraLung team realized the nonprofit had to be a separate organization, and asked Charles to consider creating, designing and leading the new nonprofit. Charles’ energetic efforts through the first quarter of 2018 have laid the foundations of a world-class professional organization, based on Linda’s legacy, and the guiding principle that patients should have free or subsidized access to clearing their airways. Linda’s Breath was incorporated on March 4, 2018 as a Colorado nonprofit organization.
Backstory of Art and Lucille meeting Charles
“In early 2017 Art purchased some antique radios and parts from an estate auction, along with quite a few technical electronics publications that he didn’t want to see end up in a landfill.
He and Lucille thought they would be able to donate them to a library, but as they weren’t bar coded, meaning they weren’t shelf ready, all the local libraries declined the donation.
When picking up the auction items they visited with another couple who were also antique radio enthusiasts. They mentioned they had recently moved to Colorado and were looking for a radio club.
So after looking into library donations, Lucille found the Colorado Antique Radio Club which meets nearby every other month and they shortly attended a meeting and joined the club. During their introductory greeting Lucille mentioned all these publications which were available if anyone would like them. Another member told her that there were museums back east that would probably be interested. Lucille identified 3 or 4 museums, and began calling or corresponding with them. This too seemed like a dead end as the museums either didn’t have room for the publications or they didn’t fit in with that museum’s mission. However the very last museum told her about the International Vacuum Tube Museum right here in Denver.
Her correspondence with Charles led to the publications being donated to the Museum and the precipitous meeting with Charles.” Lucille and Art Hughes