Chicago Teen Gets Rare Heart And Lung Transplant

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Fifteen-year-old Spencer Kolman had to depend on an oxygen tank to get around but after a heart-lung transplant at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri last year, the Chicago teen now looks forward to doing what most kids do.

Four years ago, Spencer collapsed while playing hockey. He was initially suspected to have asthma and pneumonia but doctors eventually concluded that he has pulmonary fibrosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease characterized by lung tissues that get damaged and scarred. The thickened and stiff tissue then makes it more difficult for the lungs to work properly. As the condition worsens, the scar tissue makes it harder for oxygen to get into the blood. The low level of oxygen and the stiff scar tissue can cause the patient to experience shortness of breath especially when walking and exercising.

Spencer was just 16-month-old when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that affects cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles. He had to undergo a year of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries and radiation before he entered remission.

Despite his condition, Spencer was keeping up with his peers until he started to feel shortness of breath that led to his collapse. Doctors eventually told his family that his cancer treatment when he was younger was responsible for his pulmonary fibrosis and that his condition was so severe, he had to undergo a heart-lung transplant.

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