INDIANAPOLIS -- Douglas Riley is breathing freely again after he received lifesaving surgery for a rare lung condition at St. Vincent Hospital.
Riley was diagnosed one year ago with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. He says the only symptom he had was shortness of breath.
The condition, which is often misdiagnosed as asthma or COPD, causes significant blood clots in all parts of the lungs. It's basically high blood pressure of the lungs.
"We do a full on sternotomy which is where we break the breast bone and then you go in and cut up the arteries where the clots are and then pull them out," said Dr. Ashwin Ravichandran, St. Vincent Cardiologist.
The arteries are taken out until blood can flow correctly.
A year and a day after his surgery, Riley took on the "Fight for Air" climb at the Salesforce tower with the American Lung Association.
"It felt pretty good to be able to know that when I got out of the hospital, I couldn't hardly get up two steps. And to run around a year later and climb 47 flights. Yeah," said Riley.
St. Vincent doctors say the are less than 700 of these surgeries performed in the U.S. every year.
The procedure had been previously unavailable in Indiana and much of the Midwest.