Retired nurse makes transplant history at Northwestern Medical


CHICAGO — Surgeons have performed Northwestern Medical’s first successful combined lung-liver transplant.

The patient was 63-year-old Patricio Collera who retired from nursing while working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 2019. The retirement was not by choice, but rather due to his own declining health from interstitial lung disease and non-alcoholic liver disease.

In February, he was evaluated for a lung transplant which showed his liver was fibrosed by 75 percent. This meant Collera would also need a liver transplant because of the medications he would be on for the rest of his life.

“I immediately sent messages across the country to top-tier transplant centers and was informed that a lung-liver transplant wasn’t possible due to my age or their team’s lack of experience. One doctor told me, ‘Don’t do it – you’re going to die,’” said Collera in a written press release from the hospital. “But when I turned to Northwestern Medicine, I started crying tears of relief when they said, ‘yes – we can do it.’” 

A combination lung-liver transplant is rare in the United States. According to Dr. Rade Tomic, director of Northwestern Medicine’s lung transplant program, only ten have been performed in 2022.

The procedure was performed on Aug. 24, which means Thanksgiving marks three months to the day since Collera’s life was saved.

Northwestern Medicine plans held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the operation. Collera was present along with Dr. Satish Nadig, Dr. Ankit Bharat and Dr. Rafael Garza-Castillon who were all involved with the transplant. You can watch the entire event in the video above.

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