Last year, on November 29th, 15-year-old Spencer Kolman underwent a double transplant surgery that involved replacing his damaged heart and lungs at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Now that he can move around freely like other teenage boys, without having to rely constantly on oxygen tanks, Spencer is looking forward to rejoining the Boy Scouts and trying out for his school’s band.
“After the operation, when I was able to start walking around, it almost felt completely different because it was so much easier. I am amazed”, said Spencer Kolman to CNN reporters.
While he was playing hockey near the family home almost four years ago, Spencer suddenly collapsed. According to his family’s physician at the time, young Spencer was most likely suffering from asthma and received an inhaler. However, his overall health did not improve and asked for a second opinion. After another team of medical experts saw him, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and started treatment right away.
Spencer says he felt the treatment was not doing much for his health. After learning the second treatment also didn’t yield any positive results, the health experts subjected Spencer to more detailed analysis and came to the conclusion that it was, in fact, pulmonary fibrosis.
At just 16 months old, Spencer Kolman was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. However, baby Spencer entered remission after undergoing multiple surgeries and chemo and radiation sessions. Until the incident four years ago, Spencer was developing on pace with his peers. Doctors old his parents three years after the asthma diagnosis that his current condition was due to his cancer treatment and was so severe the boy needed a heart-lung transplant as soon as possible.
The Kolmans were told that only five hospitals in the country did this kind of surgery. Their first choice was Boston Children’s Hospital. However, medical experts there told the family the risks were too great because the lining of Spencer’s lungs had become almost attached to the chest wall due to scarring.
However, surgeons at St. Louis Children’s Hospital disagreed with their counterparts and were willing to perform the double transplant surgery. Fortunately, a match was found for Spencer only several weeks later and the young patient was put under the knife for a five-hour-long surgery. Now, Spencer is recovering from the procedure. Observing his progress, however, his father fears he will no longer be able to keep up with his son on the treadmill in the near future.
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