Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL –  Cystic fibrosis patient Fanny Vlahos was nearing the end of the second trimester of her pregnancy when she caught pneumonia and her lung function declined drastically.

By the time her son was four months old, Mrs. Vlahos was tethered to an oxygen tank and too weak to even bend over the crib and pick him up. But after undergoing a double lung transplant at Loyola University Medical Center, Mrs. Vlahos was able to breathe easily again.

"The magnitude of the gift of life is not lost on me," said Mrs. Vlahos, who lives in Downers Grove. "This donor gave me lungs, but gave my son his mother. That gift can never be repaid."

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited, progressive disease that causes thick fluid to form in the lungs and other organs, making it increasingly difficult to breathe. As the disease progresses, lung transplantation becomes an option, said Erin Lowery, MD, a Loyola Medicine pulmonologist and lung transplant specialist.

"Once they undergo a transplant, I really get to see a transformation in these patients as they heal and recover and move on with their lives," Dr. Lowery said.

Mrs. Vlahos has had some setbacks, but overall has done extremely well with her transplant. "I have a future, and I don't see that future dimming any time soon," she said.

Loyola Medicine provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children and adult cystic fibrosis patients. Loyola's pulmonologists are leaders in their field, and work with surgeons, nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians, genetic counselors, social workers and psychologists to provide the highest quality of care. Loyola's program is accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Loyola has performed more than 900 lung transplants, making it the largest program in Illinois. Loyola has performed more than twice as many lung transplants as all other programs in Illinois combined.