For years, Heather Cronin, of Springfield, Va., loved the life of hard labor. She was a stonemason and carver. She'd pick up, pound, and pummel rocks and stone into works of art. Lots of heavy lifting and chiseling. Loading and unloading her truck with everything from rocks in the raw to massive finished monuments.
Then one day. Suddenly. She was totally out of breath. Her diagnosis? Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Her lungs were scarred; her lung capacity just 30 percent of normal.
Aldo T. Iacono, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and medical director of lung transplantation at the University of Maryland Medical Center says there's no cure for IPF, and the worsening progression of the disease can't be stopped.
"A lung transplant becomes the only viable option for patients with pulmonary fibrosis," says Dr. Iacono. The transplanted lung can make breathing easier and improve quality of life.
Cronin received her first lung transplant in 2006, but chronic rejection destroyed that transplant within a year. By 2015, she needed a second transplant to keep her alive.
In this video, Heather Cronin describes how pulmonary fibrosis has affected her life, and Dr. Iacono explains how special efforts at the University of Maryland Medical Center made it possible for her to receive that second transplant quickly.