MAYWOOD, IL – Sara Rusboldt, a fourth-grade teacher in Michigan City, Indiana, has just received the best Christmas gift of her life – a double lung transplant.
Ms. Rusboldt, 31, is recovering at Loyola University Medical Center and can't wait to return to her classroom at St. Stanislaus Kostka School.
"I miss my kids and fellow teachers so much," she said.
This is the second time a donor has saved Ms. Rusboldt's life. In 2011, after being diagnosed with leukemia, she received a transplant of stem cells donated by her sister, Monica.
Sara Rusboldt has been cancer free since the stem cell transplant. But she experienced a complication called graft-versus-host disease, which caused her lungs to fail. She underwent a double lung transplant on her grandmother's 90th birthday.
"Santa came early for me this year," she said. “I would not be here today without my sister's stem cells and my donor's lungs."
Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, performed the eight-hour surgery, which began at 11 pm on December 19. Ms. Rusboldt is making an excellent recovery and likely will be home in time for New Year's, said lung transplant specialist Daniel Dilling, MD.
For 29 years, Loyola has operated the largest and most successful lung transplant program in Illinois. Loyola has performed more than 900 lung transplants -- more than all other Illinois centers combined. Loyola's 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.