Oldest Lung Transplant Patient in Illinois | News | Loyola Medicine
Monday, April 4, 2016

At Age 74, Loyola Patient Is Oldest in Illinois to Receive Lung Transplant

MAYWOOD, IL – At age 74, Loyola University Medical Center patient Brian Andersen recently became what is believed to be the oldest patient in Illinois to receive a lung transplant.

And he feels terrific.

No longer suffering from debilitating shortness of breath, Mr. Andersen is returning to his extraordinarily active life as a real estate developer, pilot, downhill skier, scuba diver and biker (he owns 10 motorcycles).

“Every morning I open my eyes and take a deep breath, and as my lungs fill with air, I think it’s another great day,” said Mr. Andersen, now 75, of Downers Grove, Illinois.

As Mr. Andersen’s case illustrates, the upper age limit for lung transplantation has been increasing steadily. The maximum age, originally 60, increased to 65 in the 1990s and has gone up further since then, said Daniel Dilling, MD, Mr. Andersen’s pulmonologist and Loyola’s medical director of lung transplantation.

During the first half of 2015, 27.5 percent of lung transplant patients in North America were older than 65, according to the most recent data from the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Age, by itself, is no longer considered an absolute contraindication to lung transplantation, according to the latest guidelines from the transplantation society. Although patients older than 75 are unlikely to be candidates for lung transplantation, “there cannot be endorsement of an upper age limit,” the guidelines said.

Dr. Dilling said that when he evaluates a patient for a transplant, he considers the patient’s age, along with the patient’s overall health. Dr. Dilling said that Mr. Andersen’s physiological age was much younger than his chronological age. Apart from his lung disease, he was in excellent health.

“Mr. Andersen had no other major medical concerns,” Dr. Dilling said. “He was very strong and robust, and looked a lot younger than 74.”

Mr. Andersen said he had always enjoyed excellent health, and apart from an occasional cold, almost never got sick. But in 2012, Mr. Andersen 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.

By the spring of 2015, Mr. Andersen had to go on supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day. Even using high doses of oxygen, he couldn’t walk up more than a couple steps without stopping to catch his breath. “I was winded all the time,” he said.

Mr. Andersen had only weeks to live when, a few weeks before his 75th birthday, he received a life-saving, right lung transplant on Sept. 15, 2015. The operation was performed by Mamdouh Bakhos, MD. Dr. Bakhos is chair of Loyola’s department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and one of the nation’s top lung transplant surgeons.

Mr. Andersen praised Dr. Bakhos, Dr. Dilling and Loyola’s entire lung transplant team. “The doctors and staff at Loyola have given me back my life,” he said. “The care I received and the encouragement I was given were the highest level. I can’t say enough about them.”

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.

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 94 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 133,000 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.