On any given day, five lung transplant surgeries are performed in hospitals across the country, but last week Loyola University Medical Center performed five of the surgeries in one day.
It's the first time this has ever happened in Illinois, and the procedures -- performed in a 24 hour period between May 8 and 9 -- required around-the-clock work from a huge team of doctors and nurses with four of the surgeries occurring at the same time in two operating rooms.
Julie D'Agostino was one of the recipients of a new lung. She needed the surgery after a 2011 transplant failed when she was a teenager.
"Julie and I are now related. We share a set of lungs together," said 68-year-old Robert Senander, a judge who received the other lung from one of the donors.
"He's my brother from another mother," D'Agostino said.
The lungs for the surgeries came from a total of three donors.
"Our goal when we woke up was not to do five transplants in 24 hours, but when the offers come ... some patients can't walk across the room, can't talk without becoming conversationally short of breath," Dr. Jeffery Schwartz said.
A week later, the patients are already surprised at how things they could barely do before are now easy, which will become the new normal.
"We are all blessed. Some more than others, but we are all blessed," patient Roderick Beck said.
Around 1,800 lung transplants are performed in the U.S. every year.