Parenthood is one of the greatest joys for most people. But for Fanny Vlahos, a young Michigan woman, holding her infant son is nothing short of miraculous. Vlahos has cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that makes the body produce abnormally thick and sticky mucus which builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and in the pancreas.
Approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. have this chronic, progressive disease. Most are diagnosed in early childhood. Even with therapy and medical intervention the prognosis can be grim. People with CF live, on average, to age 37, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine.
But Vlahos not only beat the odds; she beat CF.
With the generous gift by an organ donor and the skillful talents of the lung transplant team at Loyala University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., Vlahos received a double lung transplant and a new lease on life.
According to a press release issued by the university, 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.
There are only about 2000 lung transplants performed in the U.S. annually. Over the past 30 years, Loyola has performed more than 900 lung transplants, and is largest program in Illinois.
Today, Vlahos counts her blessings as she looks forward to playing with her son and watching him grow to adulthood. “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.”