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(PHOENIX – Jan. 27, 2020) – The new decade is brining newfound hope to a Colorado man who underwent a lifesaving double lung transplant at Norton Thoracic Institute, located at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
“I tear up thinking about all the work the Norton medical team did for me,” said Jeff Greenway, 55. “I’m humbled by the time and effort they put into keeping me alive.”
Greenway was critically ill due to a condition called primary pulmonary hypertension when he arrived at St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute in early 2018. The disease is a rare type of high blood pressure that impacts the arteries that circulate blood from the heart to the lungs.
“Primary pulmonary hypertension is a progressive disease that often advances despite aggressive treatment,” said Rajat Walia, MD, medical director of lung transplantation at St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute. “In Jeff’s case, the disease had damaged his lungs so severely that the only way he would survive was by having a double lung transplant.”
For more than a decade, Greenway tried to treat the progressive disease with medication. But, in 2017, Greenway found himself ending the year in a hospital intensive care unit in Colorado. There he was told a lung transplant was his only option.
Greenway was referred to St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute in Phoenix, which is known for providing expert, lifesaving care to patients with severe and complex thoracic conditions. Soon after the referral took place, Greenway was air lifted to Phoenix to be treated by Norton’s skilled lung transplant team.
“My pulmonologist told me there’s a plane outside on the runway ready to take me to Arizona,” said Greenway. “It was hopeful news after learning I would not be able to have a lung transplant in Colorado.”
Immediately after arriving at Norton, Greenway was put on a type of life-support technology called an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. This lifesaving tool wasn’t available at the Colorado facility where Greenway was previously being treated.
“ECMO played an instrumental role in helping support Jeff to become strong enough for the transplant,” said Dr. Walia. “It’s essentially a device that helps a patient breathe by circulating their blood through a circuit that can mimic the functions of heart and lungs at the bedside. Essentially, the patient is kept alive on cardiopulmonary support.”
Four days after his arrival to Norton, Greenway was wheeled into the operating room where he received the gift of life. Thoracic surgeons Samad Hashimi, MD; and Chirag Patel, MD, teamed to perform the successful double lung transplant. Kevin Brady, MD, a cardiac surgeon at Dignity Health
St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, was also in the OR where he performed an open heart procedure to help the blood flow in Greenway’s heart which was significantly weakened by the disease.
After the procedure, Greenway experienced the ups and downs of recovery. With the support of his wife, Sandie, Greenway pushed through a few setbacks that prolonged his hospital stay. In August 2019, he was cleared to return home to Elizabeth, CO. He recently rang in the New Year at home with his family for the first time since undergoing his transplant – reflecting on all that he overcame in the last decade thanks to the support from his loved ones and the Norton medical team.
“The Norton team has a heart for their patients and they do one heck of a job,” said Greenway. “I appreciate what they did for me so much. I can’t even express it in words.”