Loyola Lung Transplant Nurse to Hustle up the Hancock with Husband who Suffers from Lung Disease

News Archive February 22, 2013

Loyola Lung Transplant Nurse to Hustle up the Hancock with Husband who Suffers from Lung Disease

Nurse can breathe easier knowing donations will help lung care

MAYWOOD, Ill. - While climbing 94 flights of stairs would make most breathless, this trek will leave Jennifer Johnson, a Loyola University Health System lung transplant nurse, breathing easier knowing she is raising money for a good cause.

Johnson will join more than 4,000 people for the Hustle up the Hancock this Sunday, Feb. 24. She will take to the stairs at 9:15 a.m. to raise money for lung disease research, advocacy and education. Johnson expects to finish in 30 minutes. This will be her seventh climb to the top of the John Hancock Center.

“This climb will be an opportunity to push myself just like my patients push themselves every day,” Johnson said. “They will be my inspiration, as I scale the steps and become winded."

Johnson is part of the largest and most successful lung transplant program in Illinois. She plays an integral role in obtaining donated lungs for patients who need a transplant to survive.

This year’s climb hits a little closer to home for Johnson. In 2010, her husband, Mike, 39, was diagnosed with cryptogenic organizing pneumonia, a rare lung disorder. Mike’s lungs function at 60 percent, which leaves him winded after simple tasks such as picking up their 2-year-old son Cooper. Despite this, he is not letting the disease get in his way. Mike will join his wife on the 1,632-step climb for the first time since his diagnosis. The pair has been training together for the last several weeks and plans to cross the finish line hand-in-hand.

“I never imagined that my experience with lung disease would affect my own family,” Johnson said. “Climbing to the top with my husband is the least I can do to support him and my patients who struggle with every breath."

The Johnsons will be surrounded by family and colleagues who are members of Jennifer’s team, Loyola’s Lung Angels. The group has raised more than $5,000 for the Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Nora Plunkett

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