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Chicago Teen Goes Through Rare Heart and Lung Transplant Surgery

By Charles Omedo , Feb 21, 2017 01:11 AM EST
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A 15-year-old Chicago teen, Spencer Kolman, has successfully undergone a heart and lung transplant - a rare dual surgery and the only one of its kind performed in the entire United States last year. The heart-lung transplant was done at the St. Louis Children's Hospital's Heart Center following a 5-hour surgery operation. Kolman's condition is fast improving, but doctors continue to watch him for signs of infection or potential organ rejection.

Doctors diagnoses and ultimate heart-lung transplant

At the tender age of 16 months, Kolman was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. For one full year, he became a patient of chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries until the condition gradually disappeared. Just four years back, he fell and couldn't rise while playing hockey close to his family's house. Doctors said he had asthma but when inhalers wouldn't work, another doctor said he was suffering from pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics, Fox News reported.

It eventually became evident that Kolman didn't have pneumonia and further tests convinced doctors he had pulmonary fibrosis. Doctors agreed that his childhood cancer treatment was responsible for his current pulmonary fibrosis and that his situation was grave - because he would require a heart-lung transplant. Only five hospitals were qualified in the entire United States to carry out such an operation.

Kolman was snatched from the claws of death

The Boston Children's Hospital rejected the possibility of carrying out the surgery because they said it was too high-risk - cancer treatments had made his chest wall to scar, making the linings of his lungs to stick to it. St. Louis Children's Hospital's Heart Center agreed to do the operation but said Kolman needed immediate heart and lung transplant because his condition was critical and he was at the point of death. He was admitted immediately and placed on a ventilator even though doctors had initially wanted to place him on the outpatient list, CNN reports.

The young man was placed on waiting list for transplant patients. The hospital called the family on November 29 that a match had been for Kolman's heart and lungs, and much later the transplant was carried out. The 5-hour-long surgery was successful and Kolman is now recuperating fast, but he has not been discharged yet because doctors are monitoring his progress with the transplanted organs. Doctors are positive that all things being equal, the young man will make it and live a normal life like other kids out there.

Right now, Kolman wants to get back to the Boy Scout, play trumpet with the school band, and do radio show. Having walked a mile on the treadmill after his successful surgery, the young lad also wants to head out to camp to do some hiking. And then he can't also wait to get back to ice hockey close to his family's home at the Chicago-area.

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