Having lived with Sleep Apnea a company is set up to distribute life-changing equipment at very competitive prices
With 20 years experience using CPAP machines and masks this company offers personal advice to help both first-time and longterm users
Waking abruptly due to choking, snorting, or gasping for air during sleep, night sweats, overwhelming fatigue and loud snoring are just some of the symptoms that those living with a debilitating chronic condition called Sleep Apnea experience on a daily – or nightly – basis. There are two prominent types of this disorder: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, so-called due to upper-airway obstruction, and Central Sleep Apnea, when your brain doesn’t send the correct signals to your muscles that control your breathing.
Eighteen years ago, John McKiernan was diagnosed with this serious, potentially life-threatening condition that can cause breathing to stop and start during sleep up to 20 – 30 times an hour per night. During an episode, the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to pull you out of deep sleep to a lighter sleep or to wakefulness, so that the airway re-opens, and normal breathing can resume. It is an exhausting condition that affects all age groups and genders, although it is more common in men. It is estimated that as many as one in 20 people live with it in Ireland – although experts suspect half of these live undiagnosed – with up to 1.5million people affected in the UK and 18 million people affected in the USA.
John also runs a successful eyewear company and prior to his diagnosis, he would regularly require driving breaks on sales trips around the country, pulling in for naps to fight off extreme daytime drowsiness caused by his interrupted sleep patterns every night. For many Sleep Apnea patients, they have no recollection of their fitful sleep the next morning so it can be difficult to diagnose the problem. This was the case for John, who couldn’t understand his exhaustion every day as he didn’t recall his episodes when he woke up. Patients frequently are only alerted to their issue by a partner or family member.
There is a simple, mechanical solution to Sleep Apnea that exists – CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, a device that pushes oxygenated air through the nasal passages to keep them open and help obtain uninterrupted sleep. The equipment is a prescription therapy and must be prescribed by a Respiratory and Sleep Consultant. The CPAP machine is made up of a pump that controls airflow, a tube that delivers the air, and a mask that is worn over the nose or mouth or both at night. After sleep clinic trials, John was advised to try out the machine – and much to his delight it worked, and John has not looked back since.
However, there is one main barrier that can prohibit patients’ ease of access to this life-changing equipment: cost. Over the last number of years, John has become increasingly frustrated by the expense of the machines and masks that are essential for his health and well-being and he resolved to take on the small monopoly of suppliers that were setting non-competitive prices for the equipment here in Ireland.
John decided to set up his own Sleep Apnea Therapy Solutions company, www.sleepapneamasks.ie and after considerable research, he identified BMC Medical Co., the leader in respiratory care products and services in the Far East, as a significantly more affordable option to other companies currently supplying the Irish market. Impressed by their professional outlet, John agreed to become their sole agent and distributor here in Ireland. BMC Medical Co. distribute to over 80 countries worldwide and their products are FDA approved with CE marking. As importers and distributors for many years – importing optical goods to the Irish market we only deal with suppliers after visiting their factories.
When the pandemic hit in March last year, John found himself with much more time to devote to his new venture. With a noticeable increased demand for online shopping due to Covid-19, he launched his website www.sleepapneamasks.ie which distributes affordable high-quality respiratory equipment for home and hospital use in Ireland and the UK and offers masks, machines and other accessories for purchase or rent at up to 50% less than their competitors. The expense of the equipment can then be partly claimed back under the HSE Drug Payment scheme. It is simply about offering quality products and value for money. The consumer knows that makes sense. We have kept the website user friendly.
Sleep Apnea Masks prides itself on providing excellent consumer care. As the pandemic prevented agents demonstrating the use of CPAP machines, John and his committed team have been available on the other end of the phone to give advice. As John is speaking from personal experience, he understands how daunting it can be to source a CPAP machine and so can offer invaluable advice to customers.
In addition to John’s mission to provide more affordable prices to those suffering from Sleep Apena, he also wants to raise awareness of the condition for the many thousands of undiagnosed people whose quality of life can be transformed by diagnosis.
“Prior to my diagnosis I was living in state of constant fatigue, my wife also suffered as I was keeping her awake every night with constant snoring, tossing and turning. It was such a relief to when I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea 20 years ago. In that time, I have purchased masks and machines from many of the leading suppliers and spent a small fortune in the process. Following considerable research, I travelled to Beijing and visited the BMC facility who produce Sleep Apnea machines, masks and accessories. After seeing the professionalism of this facility along with their competitive prices I decided to import and distribute for this company.”