Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Lungs, Two Kids and a Dog

MAYWOOD, Ill. - When Rick Smeberg walked his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, he had to drag along a portable oxygen tank due to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A double-lung transplant at Loyola University Medical Center enabled Smeberg to live to see his two granddaughters. And today, he is taking care of them full-time - along with a German shepherd - while his daughter and son-in-law are at work.

"My girls are very close to their grandpa, and he is very close to them," said Smeberg's daughter, Jill Boganwright. "He's their world, and they're his world, too."
Smeberg, who lives in Highland, Ind., cares for 2-year-old Kara and 1-year-old Audra, who live in nearby Munster, Ind. He cares for his granddaughters from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, plus Saturday mornings. Smeberg makes breakfast and lunch, changes diapers, gives baths, walks them in the stroller and finds endless ways to entertain them, such as sidewalk chalk drawings.

"I spoil them, too," he said.

Loyola lung transplant specialist Dr. Daniel Dilling said Smeberg, 66, has no limitations to his lifestyle or function. "He is using his gift very well," Dilling said.
Smeberg's COPD forced him to retire at age 49 from his job as a steel mill heavy equipment mechanic. He spent 10 years tethered to an oxygen tank before receiving a double-lung transplant in 2008.

"Without the transplant, I would have died," he said. "My donor saved my life, and I have been very lucky with the respiratory doctors I have had."

Boganwright said her father has always been a great dad. "And he's even a better grandpa," she said. "He has the biggest heart, and now he has the capability to continue loving and caring."

Loyola's Lung Transplantation Program is the largest in Illinois and among the top centers in the nation. The program takes a holistic approach to care, which addresses patients’ physical, emotional and educational needs.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, 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.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.