Chicago Teen Who Underwent Heart-Lung Transplant After Surviving Cancer Recovering

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald February 22, 04:00 am

A Chicago teenager, who is only 15-years-old, has had many chances in living his life and his latest milestone is surviving his heart-lung transplant. The teenager is now recovering from the surgery.

The teen, Spencer Kolman, said in a statement he is looking forward to being part of the Boy Scouts again and doing things he usually did in the past. He said he is thrilled he is no longer dependent on an oxygen tank and was able to start walking around after the surgery that took place last Nov. 29 at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Four years ago, Kolman was playing hockey when he collapsed after experiencing shortness of breath. Initially, doctors told him he had asthma while a second opinion claimed he had pneumonia.

Fox News reported Kolman was eventually diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The illness was a result of his chemotherapy when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at 16 months. When he was still a baby, he underwent a year of chemotherapy, radiation and a number of surgeries.

After the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Kolman was able to develop normally until the collapse. Doctors told him and his family the pulmonary fibrosis was the side effect of the chemotherapy and he should have a heart-lung transplant because of the severity of the condition, The Monitor Daily reported.

Kolman has two siblings, 16-year-old Zach and seven-year-old Evangeline. Initially, the family was told the lungs of Kolman had to be replaced but when they got to another hospital, they were told both the heart and the lungs have been damaged.

"In Spencer's case, honestly, he was at death's door," Dr. Pirooz Eghtesady of the St. Louis Children's Hospital, the cardiothoracic surgeon-in-chief said of Kolman's initial condition. "He can now have a life. The future really depends on how he does and how his body accepts or rejects the graft."

The doctor also said recently, Kolman walked the treadmill for a number of minutes and they see hope in the child's situation. More updates will be given once available.

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