Lung Transplant Patients to Hustle up the Hancock | Loyola Medicine

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Loyola Medicine Lung Transplant Patients Set to Tackle Hustle Up the Hancock

John Allen

MAYWOOD, IL – Earlier this year, John Allen took to the ski slopes in Idaho, reaching 10,000 feet into the mountains of Sun Valley. Nearly 15 years after his double lung transplant, Mr. Allen still gets emotional when he thinks about how far he's come.

"I don't know why I was saved, but this life has been a gift," he said.

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.

For 30 years, Loyola has operated the largest and most successful lung transplant program in Illinois. Loyola has performed more than 900 lung transplants, by far the most of any center in Illinois. Loyola’s lung transplant program regularly evaluates and successfully performs transplants in patients who have been turned down by other centers.

Dr. Dilling and Mr. Allen are part of the 42-member team called Loyola's Lung Angels, which has raised more than $12,000 to benefit the Respiratory Health Association. This is the largest team Loyola has fielded for this event, of which Loyola Medicine is a sponsor.

"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."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.