Mr. Allen (pictured), of Evergreen Park, Illinois, is one of seven lung transplant patients, along with families of recipients, who will join Loyola Medicine physicians, nurses, social workers and dietitians as they climb 1,623 steps to Hustle Up the Hancock on Sunday, February 25.
"Not only does Hustle Up the Hancock benefit an excellent charity in the Respiratory Health Association, but this event provides the opportunity for our lung transplant recipients to meet each other and to show how far they've come," said Daniel Dilling, MD, medical director of lung transplantation.
"As clinicians, it's one of our most rewarding experiences because when we meet these patients, they can barely breathe," said Jennifer Johnson, RN, BSN, transplant coordinator. "They are so excited to do this, to give back and to try this physical feat."
Mr. Allen was 52-years-old when he received his lung transplant, performed by Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, director of thoracic surgery. A former smoker, Mr. Allen began to have issues after a case of viral pneumonia led to pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. He was on the transplant wait list for two months when he received the call that lungs were available. His boss drove him to Loyola. Eight hours later, he had new lungs.
"It changed my life," Mr. Allen said. "When I first came out, I could breathe again. I was at peace. I was a normal person again."
Since the transplant, Mr. Allen has savored life and his second chance. He went back to work in a grocery warehouse. He plays guitar in a band, earned his degree at a community college and started skiing again, something he loved doing before getting sick.
"I'm just happy to be here," Mr. Allen said. "My life has been pretty good. I hate to say this and don't want to jinx it, but it feels like everything before the transplant was just a bad dream."