MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine’s groundbreaking lung transplant program reached a new milestone when it recently performing its 900th transplant.
Loyola is among the top lung transplant centers in the world and has performed three times as many lung transplants as all other centers in Illinois combined.
Loyola’s 900th lung transplant patient is Chicago police officer Theresa Boss-French, 51, who received a double lung transplant performed by cardiothoracic surgeon Jeffrey Schwartz, MD.
“It’s given me a whole new life,” she said. “Since my transplant, I have not coughed once or struggled to breathe.”
Ms. Boss-French has sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that mostly affects the lungs and lymph glands. Symptoms include persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest pain. Sarcoidosis often occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. Women and African Americans are at higher risk for the disease.
Before her transplant, Ms. Boss-French had to use supplementary oxygen, and walking short distances left her gasping for breath. She coughed so much her husband could not sleep in the same room. She switched from being a patrol officer to less physically demanding duties at the security gate of a water filtration plant.
Ms. Boss-French was considered a high-risk patient for lung transplantation due to a complication of her disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs). The hypertension increased the risk of bleeding during surgery. In preparation for surgery, Ms. Boss-French took a drug that controlled her hypertension for 15 months prior to the operation.
“Theresa is a very strong person who showed a lot of strength through every step of her disease,” said her pulmonologist, Sana Quddus, MD. “She is a pleasure to work with. Whatever we have asked her to do, she has done it. Better motivated lung transplant patients tend to do better, and Theresa is very motivated.”
Before her transplant, Ms. Boss-French worked up to the day of her surgery. Now, she is looking forward to returning to work.
Ms. Boss-French thinks often of her donor and her donor’s family. “The day I received my transplant, one life was lost and one life was saved,” she said. “I am very, very grateful and humbled. They will be forever in my thoughts and prayers.”
For 29 years, Loyola has operated the largest and most successful lung transplant program in Illinois. The multidisciplinary team regularly evaluates and successfully performs transplants in patients who have been turned down by other centers in Chicago and surrounding states. Despite taking on more challenging cases, Loyola consistently records outstanding outcomes.
Loyola performed the first single-lung transplant in Illinois in 1988 and the state’s first double-lung transplant in 1990. In 2007, Loyola performed the first simultaneous double-lung, kidney transplant in Illinois. In 2014, Loyola became the only center in Illinois to perform five successful lung transplants in just over 24 hours.
The lung transplant program is part of Loyola’s comprehensive advanced lung disease program, which offers second opinions and leading-edge clinical trials. The advanced treatment can in some cases delay or even eliminate the need for a lung transplant.
The program is led by medical director Daniel Dilling, MD, and surgical director Jeffrey Schwartz, MD. The program also includes pulmonologists Bradford Bemiss, MD, James Gagermeier, MD, Erin Lowery, MD, and Sana Quddus, MD, and surgeons Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, Mamdouh Bakhos, MD, and Edwin McGee, Jr., MD.