Heart & Double-Lung Transplant: 10th Anniversary | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, April 2, 2015

Loyola patient marks 10th anniversary of heart and double-lung transplant

MAYWOOD, IL. (April 2, 2015) – It’s been 10 years since Andrew Gaumer received a life-saving  heart and double-lung transplant at Loyola University Medical Center.

“Every day since then has been a gift,” Andrew said. “I feel really blessed.”

Andrew was born with cystic fibrosis, which causes thick fluid to form in the lungs and other organs. As he reached his 20s, it became increasingly difficult for Andrew to breathe. He spent 14 months at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola, waiting for a transplant.

Andrew was on oxygen 24 hours a day. He was constantly short of breath – like forever running on a treadmill. Even simple tasks such as putting on socks or brushing his teeth left Andrew gasping for breath.

One of his lungs became infected and shrank, and the other lung grew larger to compensate. The enlarged lung, in turn, stressed his heart and pushed it out of position. So Andrew’s Loyola physicians decided to perform a combined heart and double-lung transplant.

Andrew underwent the heart-lung transplant on March 20, 2005. The transplant was successful, and Andrew’s transplanted organs continue to function normally. He can run a 5-K race or climb a mountain. “You’re limitless in what you can do,” he said.

Andrew lives in Ankeny, Iowa, and works full time as a seafood manager at a supermarket. He and his wife, Andrea, married in 2012, and they are expecting their first child in May.

Every three months, Andrew and Andrea Gaumer drive five hours to Loyola for Andrew’s regular check-ups. He could transfer his care to Iowa City, but he prefers to stay at Loyola. 

“I’ve never been so genuinely cared for,” he said. “They take it to a whole other level, and I’m not willing to give that up and try something else.”

Erin Lowery, MD, Andrew’s pulmonologist, said Andrew is an inspiration to patients waiting for lung transplants. She tells them that Andrew’s case illustrates how there is “light at the end of the tunnel, and that they can have the sort of life they long for.”

Andrew, 33, sometimes recalls the months when he was desperately ill, and unsure whether he would survive long enough until organs became available.

“There are periods when you remember what it was like,” he said. “Those are good periods, because you don’t want to take for granted what you’ve got. It’s good to remember. Someone had to sacrifice.”

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.