MAYWOOD, IL – In what is certain to be an emotional church service, prominent West Side minister Rev. Joseph Kyles will return to his pulpit Easter Sunday for the first time since undergoing a life-saving double-lung transplant at Loyola University Medical Center.
For two years, a debilitating lung disease that caused severe shortness of breath robbed Rev. Kyles of the ability to give his high-energy sermons at Promise Church of Chicago, which he founded with his wife, Chrystal. Rev. Kyles also has chaired the 37th Ward Pastors Alliance.
“I’m greatly looking forward to preaching again,” Rev. Kyles said. “I had not been my normal, animated self since March of 2014. I need energy to speak. It’s our tradition and history. I think it’s going to be very emotional,” Rev. Kyles said. “People are going to be glad to see their pastor back in the pulpit. And I am very glad that I’m able to go back to doing God’s work.”
Rev. Kyles, 54, said he had enjoyed excellent health until he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive lung disease that causes lung tissue to become thick, stiff and scarred. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. Even though he was breathing supplemental oxygen, Rev. Kyles was unable to exert himself without gasping for breath. Some days, he could barely get out of bed in the morning.
“Rev. Kyles has a tremendous spirit,” said Loyola pulmonologist James Gagermeier, MD. “He has a perspective that enabled him to persevere despite more than a few setbacks.”
Loyola thoracic surgeon Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, performed Rev. Kyles’ double lung transplant on Feb. 6. Rather than cutting through the breastbone, Dr. Vigneswaran made two smaller incisions on the side of Rev. Kyles’ chest. This less-invasive procedure enabled a faster recovery, said Dr. Vigneswaran, who has performed more than 500 lung transplants.
Today, with every breath he takes, Rev. Kyles experiences the dramatic difference the transplant has made. “I can sense that I have a new set of lungs that are not damaged,” he said. “I feel great.”
Rev. Kyles noted that the theme of his church is God’s unbroken favor. “I preach that you will see a continual stream of God’s favor in your life,” he said. “That certainly has happened to me this year.”
Rev. Kyles said he is extremely grateful to his donor and to the doctors, nurses and everyone else who made his transplant possible. “I feel like I owe a big debt,” he said. “I will use my life to express my thanks.”
Loyola has performed more than 800 lung transplants, by far the most of any center in Illinois. Last year, Loyola performed more lung transplants than the three other Illinois lung transplant programs combined. In May, 2014, Loyola became the only center in Illinois to perform five successful lung transplants in just over 24 hours.