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Loyola performs record 5 lung transplants in 24 hours

Five patients took part in what Loyola University Medical Center is calling a record-breaking medical event, after all five received lung transplants in 24 hours.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Five patients took part in what Loyola University Medical Center is calling a record-breaking medical event, after all five received lung transplants in 24 hours.

They are five people who were very sick until a record-breaking day at Loyola University Medical Center last week: The 21-year-old with cystic fibrosis, the 68-year-old judge, an Indiana school teacher, a grandmother from Princeton, Illinois, and a 67-year-old executive director. All received lung transplants during a 24-hour period.

"We are all blessed," said transplant recipient Roderick Beck.

"I look forward to a new normal," fellow recipient Karen Emerich.

"I can walk the halls go back and forth with no problem without oxygen, I haven't been able to do that in three years," said Robert Senander.

Their new lease on life came from the lungs of three different donors, an offer quite rare because doctors say lungs tend to be the most fragile organ. While Karen Emerich received a double transplant, the other two sets were split between the four other patients.

Julie D'Agostino and Robert Senander share a set.

"He is my brother from another mother," D'Agostino said.

Doctors say coordinating the logistics in all five transplants was extremely challenging.

But when the offers came, doctors were determined to make it happen for their patients who were at points of desperation. It took over 30 medical personnel to pull it off.

"At no time, were there more than two operations occurring simultaneously and then there were windows in between that allowed some of us to get rest and bring in new team," Dr. Schwarz said.

All five of the patients are going home this week to their new normal.

"I look forward to those long walks with my pets," said transplant recipient Linda Kern.

"I have grandchildren, I can't wait to run in backyard and push them in the swing," said Emerich.

Loyola doctors say all five patients are showing signs of an excellent recovery. The transplant recipients all made a point to thank the donors and their families.

To put Loyola's rare accomplishment in perspective, surgeons say on average five lung transplants are performed in the United States per day.
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