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Minneapolis woman receives successful double-lung transplant

Hospice was initially recommended for the Minneapolis native and retired nurse after chemotherapy options didn't help.

MINNEAPOLIS — Chicago resident Albert Khoury and retired nurse and Minneapolis resident Tannaz Ameli share a connection and lifelong bond following life-saving surgery.

"I'm happy to see her sitting next to me," Albert said.

"It's something that's unbelievable," Ameli added during a press conference Wednesday.

Doctors at Chicago's Northwestern Medicine recently announced they successfully performed a double-lung transplant on a second patient with Stage 4 lung cancer through a first-of-its-kind clinical program called "The Dream." The first patient was Khoury; the second was Ameli.

"Lung cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in the U.S., and it's also the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country," said Dr. Ankit Bharat with Northwestern Medicine.

Doctors performed a full heart and lung bypass before removing the lungs, a procedure that's rare because of the risks involved.

"It allows us to take the cancer cells out of the body, while minimizing the risk of cancer spread while performing the surgery," he said.

As Khoury was receiving his transplant in Sept. 2021, Ameli was struggling with a lingering cough. By Jan. 2022, the retired nurse went to a large health system in Minnesota where they confirmed she had Stage 4 lung cancer. When chemotherapy treatments didn't help and hospice was recommended, Ameli's husband reached out to the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute's Second Opinion Program. Because Ameli's cancer was confined to the lungs and hadn't spread to other parts of the body, the 64-year-old was listed for a transplant and received new lungs within 10 days on July 13, 2022.

"She's a tough person and a survivor too. It's not easy to deal with the surgery," said Khoury.

"If it wasn't for the brilliant doctors, and all the care I received, the first thing doctor told me is, 'I can make you cancer free,' and this is what every person wants to hear," said Ameli.

Both are now grateful for their second chance at life.

"It's worth it and I hope all cancer patients can be lucky as me and Albert were," said Ameli.

Patients interested in being evaluated for a lung transplant can contact the referral line at 844.639.5864. For more information about Northwestern Medicine's lung cancer and lung transplant programs, as well as advanced therapies, visit the link here.

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