Earlier this week, Patrick Farris, 30, became the first person to receive a combined heart-lung transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

For the last 13 years, Farris, who had cystic fibrosis and familial cardiomyopathy, took medications and practiced respiratory therapy, including oxygen and ventilators to cope with his illness.

When he signed up for the transplant in late June, he was given just a few months to live. Incredibly, he learned only 10 days later that doctors had found a match for both heart and lungs.

Almost immediately the family drove the 3 hours to the medical center in Seattle to undergo 5-1/2 grueling hours of surgery performed by Michael Mulligan, MD, and Edward Verrier, MD. Farris’ condition became particularly dire after the lungs fused to the rib cage, caused in part by the enlargement of his heart.

"It’s important to emphasize the combined nature of this effort," said Daniel Fishbein, MD, PhD, medical director of the university’s heart transplant program. "You need excellent lung care and heart care, as well as talented surgeons, nurses, and support staff."

The United Network for Organ Sharing lists 97,000 Americans who need organ transplants, 1,517 of whom live in Washington. Three more people are waiting for heart-lung transplants at the University of Washington Medical Center.