'Mr. 2,000' grateful for gift of double-lung transplant at UPMC


Michal Keller (center), 32, of Bellefonte, recovers at UPMC Presbyterian with his wife, Lisa Keller, and best friend, Colton Eckenrode, after undergoing a double-lung transplant. He marks the 2,000th patient at UPMC to have a lung transplant.
Doctors at UPMC fittingly named him “Mr. 2,000,” a title double-lung transplant recipient Michael Keller plans to carry with joy and honor.

On Tuesday, Keller left Pittsburgh en route for home outside State College as the 2,000th person to receive a lung transplant at UPMC since the program began in 1982.

“I was very much sedated when they told me, ‘Hey, you are kind of a big deal around here,' ” Keller told the Tribune-Review. “That's quite crazy. You couldn't plan that.”

Keller, 32, of Bellefonte was born with cystic fibrosis, a condition that gradually damaged his lungs. Doctors initially pegged his life expectancy at 12 to 13 years.

“My parents encouraged me to set my goals high and live an active, normal life,” Keller said. “So I did that — I played soccer, swam and ran track. The quality of life I have had is pretty remarkable.”

About seven years ago, Keller's lung function rapidly declined. He started using supplemental oxygen at night. Eventually, he was on oxygen 24 hours a day. Continue reading