Teacher Receives a Double Lung Transplant Just Before Christmas

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Teacher Receives a New Pair of Lungs in Time for Christmas

Sara Rusboldt

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.

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.