Loyola patient receives one of the world's quickest lung transplants

April 24, 2014 by Jim Ritter

A Loyola University Medical Center patient has received one of the world's quickest lung transplants. Kenneth Baumgardner received the transplant just six days after going on the waiting list. And he went home after spending only five days in the hospital, a remarkably short stay for such a complicated procedure.

By comparison, patients nationwide spend a median of 4.6 months on the lung transplant waiting list, and the median hospital stay is 15 days (11 days at Loyola).

"It's quite a miracle," Baumgardner said.

Dr. Daniel Dilling, Loyola's medical director of Lung Transplantation, said records aren't kept for the fastest time from transplant listing to hospital discharge, "but I have never seen or heard of a case in which the entire process was completed in only 11 days," Dilling said. "It would be nearly impossible for this to happen more quickly."

Dilling said Baumgardner's quick transplant was due to several factors, including a policy change in how lungs are allocated and a surgery and recovery that were free of the complications that are common in . "Mr. Baumgardner had a perfect surgery and recovery," Dilling said.

Dilling said a key factor in Baumgardner's recovery was his surgeon, Dr. Mamdouh Bakhos, and the experienced multidisciplinary transplant team that cared for him. Bakhos has performed more than 100 lung transplants, including the first one in Illinois. Loyola has done more than 750 lung transplants, by far the most of any center in Illinois.

Baumgardner, 67, was diagnosed in 2010 with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which a buildup of scar tissue in the lungs causes a progressive decline in lung function. For 12 months he was on supplemental oxygen 24/7.

Wait times for lungs are shorter than wait times for other organs because there are fewer lung transplants and thus less demand for organs. While kidney patients can wait years for organs, lung patients typically wait months.

Traditionally, lungs went to patients who had spent the longest time on the . Consequently, some patients with rapidly progressing disease died before getting transplanted. In 2005, the lung allocation system was changed to give priority to patients who are the sickest. Under this new system, pulmonary fibrosis patients such as Baumgardner, who have rapidly progressing disease, are placed higher on the list.

When Baumgardner was listed, he was preparing to wait for about eight months, the median waiting time in the Gift of Hope transplant region that includes Loyola. But less than a week after he went on the list, the call came at 2:30 a.m.

"I was dumbfounded," Baumgardner said. "I couldn't believe it."

During surgery, Baumgardner fortunately did not have to be put on a heart-lung machine. Consequently, there was less risk of bleeding and fluid retention, Bakhos said. Single-lung transplant patients such as Baumgardner tend to recover more quickly than double-lung transplant . Baumgardner's new left lung began working quickly, and his breathing tube was removed the same day as the surgery. There was no rejection and no infection complications.

Baumgardner, a retired information technology manager who lives in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., said he is breathing normally for the first time in years. He's looking forward to golfing again and to having enough stamina to play with his two grandchildren "without them tripping over my oxygen tubing."

Baumgardner's wife of 44 years, RoseAnn, and his daughter, Carrie, are helping him recover at home. He is grateful for the many friends and family members who prayed for a successful surgery and recovery.

Baumgardner also gives thanks to Loyola's team. "Everyone from the secretaries to the transplant coordinators, nurses, doctors, surgeons, physical therapists and other members of the team did a great job of educating me and my family, managing our expectations and monitoring my progress," he said.

Explore further: Patients with rare lung disease face agonizing treatment dilemma

Related Stories

Patients with rare lung disease face agonizing treatment dilemma

April 17, 2014
Doctors who treat patients with a severe and progressive respiratory disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) can face an agonizing treatment decision.

Shedding new light on double-lung transplants

January 27, 2014
In the largest retrospective study to date using data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database for adult double-lung transplants, Temple University School of Medicine researchers have shown that there is ...

World first: Lungs awaiting transplant preserved 11 hours outside body

October 16, 2013
The multidisciplinary transplant team at University Hospitals Leuven successfully preserved a set of donor lungs for over eleven hours with the help of a machine, the longest period ever reported. The lengthy preservation ...

New clues found to preventing lung transplant rejection

February 25, 2014
Organ transplant patients routinely receive drugs that stop their immune systems from attacking newly implanted hearts, livers, kidneys or lungs, which the body sees as foreign.

Acid reflux surgery could help prevent rejection in lung transplant patients

June 28, 2013
A Loyola University Medical Center study suggests that a procedure to treat acid reflux could help prevent chronic rejection in lung transplant patients.

Vitamin D deficiency shown to increase rejection rates in lung transplant patients

April 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in lung transplant rejection and infections, according to research conducted at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). Researchers also found that recipients ...

Recommended for you

World's first child hand transplant a 'success'

July 19, 2017
The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said Tuesday, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

Knee surgery—have we been doing it wrong?

July 18, 2017
A team of University at Buffalo medical doctors have published a study that challenges a surgical practice used for decades during arthroscopic knee surgery.

New tools help surgeons find liver tumors, not nick blood vessels

July 17, 2017
The liver is a particularly squishy, slippery organ, prone to shifting both deadly tumors and life-preserving blood vessels by inches between the time they're discovered on a CT scan and when the patient is lying on an operating ...

Researchers discover indicator of lung transplant rejection

July 13, 2017
Research by scientists at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's Norton Thoracic Institute was published in the July 12, 2017 issue of Science Translational Medicine titled "Zbtb7a induction in alveolar ...

New device could make closing surgical incisions a cinch

July 7, 2017
Like many surgeons, Dr. Jason Spector is often faced with the challenge of securely closing the abdominal wall without injuring the intestines. If the process goes awry, there can be serious consequences for patients, including ...

Success with first 20 patients undergoing minimally invasive pancreatic transplant surgery

June 29, 2017
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that their first series of a minimally invasive procedure to treat chronic pancreas disease, known as severe pancreatitis, resulted in shorter hospital stays, less need for opioids ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.