By Kurtis Ming

AUBURN (CBS13) — Sleep apnea can be scary; you stop breathing while you sleep. Millions use CPAP machines to keep the oxygen flowing, but an Auburn retiree says she can’t a replacement one after hers was recalled – putting her health in danger.

“It’s been horrific,” Sue Michaels said.

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Michaels feels stuck after the recall of her lifeline.

When she stops breathing in her sleep, her Philips CPAP machine used to kick in to keep oxygen flowing to her brain. But she hasn’t used it since June, after the recall.

“My memory and my cognitive ability has diminished dramatically,” Michaels said.

Her machine’s manufacturer, Philips, recalled 18 different models in June due to a piece of foam that could break down causing asthma, respiratory, kidney and liver problems – possibly having toxic, carcinogenic effects.

Michaels, who recently finished chemotherapy, can’t afford a new machine and says the rental supply is now diminished.

Her doctors think the benefits of using her recalled machine outweigh the risks, but she doesn’t like that answer.

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“For someone who’s had cancer … it hardly seemed like a good solution to me,” Michaels said.

We asked Philips for its timeline for repairs. The company says with “3 to 4 million units globally … half in the U.S.” it’s working “as expeditiously as possible.”

We then turned to a supplier, which confirmed the recall wiped out its inventory within three days.

After we explained Sue’s situation, they overnighted her a rental machine.

“It’s just insane. Some people will literally die in their sleep if they stop breathing often enough,” Michaels said.

The company has no immediate fix and is working on a loaner program. So what do you do right now? Work with your doctor on your best option.

We asked if the company would give refunds so people could buy a new machine elsewhere. They did not answer that question.

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Philips’ full statement is below:

“Regretfully, based on user reports and subsequent testing, Philips has identified a quality issue in a sound abatement foam component that is used in certain sleep and respiratory care products.

Philips has mobilized all our resources to resolve this situation with the utmost urgency. We are also providing information on the recall on our dedicated web site:

Regarding estimated timing of the correction, we are working to address this issue as expeditiously as possible.  However, given the number of devices currently in use (estimated at 3 to 4 million units globally based on production and shipment data – about half are in the U.S.), and that important elements of the repair and replacement program require regulatory clearances, we are not able to provide an immediate solution at this time.  We remain in contact with the relevant regulatory authorities on this matter.

Philips is committed to repairing or replacing affected devices as soon as possible. We are advising patients to register their devices to facilitate repair or replacement without the need to purchase a new machine.

Philips is currently exploring the possibility of potential loaner devices for certain affected products, in accordance with local compliance or regulatory requirements.

Philips continues to recommend that affected patients please follow the advice of their physicians, as they are most familiar with a patient’s medical history.”