Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine’s groundbreaking lung transplant program has reached a major new milestone by performing its 1,000th lung transplant.

Since establishing the first lung transplant program in Illinois, Loyola has performed more than twice as many lung transplants as all other transplant centers in the state combined.

"We are proud to be among an elite group of transplant centers worldwide that have performed 1,000 lung transplants," said Daniel Dilling, MD, medical director of lung transplantation.

Only 10 other centers in the United States have performed as many as 1,000 lung transplants, according to a data base maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Jeffrey Schwartz, MD, surgical director of lung transplantation, said Loyola's 1,000th lung transplant "is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire multidisciplinary lung transplant team."

Loyola's 1,000th lung transplant patient is Jim Segreto, 69, of West Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Segreto had chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis, in which his lungs developed inflammation from breathing certain environmental allergens. This led to progressive scarring of the lungs (fibrosis) that made breathing increasingly difficult. Mr. Segreto suffered extreme shortness of breath and required supplemental oxygen 24/7. Except for doctor's visits, he rarely left the house.

Thoracic surgeon Wickii Vigneswaran, MD performed a left lung transplant on April 27 and Mr. Segreto left the hospital May 8. "Every day I feel amazingly better," Mr. Segreto said.

Now that he can breathe easily again, Mr. Segreto is looking forward to getting out of the house to travel, volunteer and see his four grandchildren.

Loyola Medicine regularly evaluates and successfully performs the most challenging lung transplant cases, including patients who have been turned down by other centers. Despite taking on more challenging cases, Loyola consistently records outstanding outcomes.

Loyola performed the first single-lung transplant in Illinois in 1988 and the state’s first double-lung transplant in 1990. In 2007, Loyola performed the first double-lung-and-kidney transplant in Illinois. In 2014, Loyola became the only center in Illinois to perform five successful lung transplants in just over 24 hours.

Lung transplantation is a life-saving option for patients with debilitating end-stage lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. Prior to receiving lung transplants, patients typically are so short of breath that they require supplemental oxygen around the clock. Minor exertions such as climbing a few stairs or even walking across the living room can leave them gasping for breath.

In their own words, Loyola patients describe how lung transplantation has transformed their lives:

Kevin Edison, 64, of Aurora, Illinois, double-lung transplant in 2005: "I am now able to travel, swim and play golf, which were impossible before my lung transplant."

Nancy Gentile, 77, of Plainfield, Illinois, left-lung transplant in 2011: "I can go up the stairs on my own, without oxygen, without stopping and without relying on anyone else."

Catherine Horine, 63, of Wheeling, Illinois, right-lung transplant in 2014: "I am able to spend more time with friends and family, participate in fundraising walks and use social media to help raise awareness."

Mark Lakoduk, 59, of Norridge, Illinois, double-lung transplant in 2016: "I can golf again. I have my life back."

Leola Moton-Morgan, 53, of Hillside, Illinois, double lung transplant in 2016: "I can travel on my own without having to take oxygen tanks or worrying about running out."

Matt Olsen, 35, of Aurora, Illinois, right-lung transplant in 2016: "I was able to start a family. My beautiful wife and I were married last October and we have a little girl on the way."

Sara Rusboldt, 32, of Michigan City, Indiana, double-lung transplant in 2018: "One of the most important things I can do now is walk up the stairs."

Sean Sullivan, 44, of Olympia Fields, Illinois, double-lung transplant in 2014: "I am no longer limited by a lack of oxygen or a constant cough. I am now truly bound by nothing. What an amazing difference."

Fanny Vlahos, 38, of Downers Grove, Illinois, double lung transplant in 2012: "I am now able to be an active participant in my son's life and be the mom I've always wanted to be."

Lung transplantation is part of Loyola’s comprehensive advanced lung disease program, which offers second opinions and leading edge clinical trials. The advanced treatment can in some cases delay or even eliminate the need for a lung transplant.