9/11 Hero Receives First Ever Double Lung Transplant at Mt. Sinai

September 13, 2022
Doctors performing double lung transplant
HomeBlog9/11 Hero Receives First Ever Double Lung Transplant at Mt. Sinai
Doctors wearing surgical gear performing a double lung transplant for 9/11 victim

James Kelly, a renowned sous-chef and  9/11 hero, has a new lease on life. Kelly, 58, from Whitestone, New York, received a double-lung transplant at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City in March of 2022. According to doctors at Mount Sinai, his surgery was the first of its kind.

James and his brother, Peter, bested world-famous Chef Bobby Flay in the fourth season finale of the popular “Iron Chef” cooking competition. However, James’s claim to fame did not stop him from lending a hand when his neighbors needed it most. Given his talents when people needed it the most, James volunteered to hand out food to first responders and other volunteers at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. James said he didn’t think anything of his efforts. Like so many others, he was simply happy to lend a hand during a time of enormous need.

The Effects of 9/11 Illness

Sadly, James’s selfless act made him critically ill. While distributing meals to rescuers and first responders, James breathed in the toxic fumes spewing from the World Trade Center disaster area. The toxins lodged in his lungs, and he developed a lung disease called silicosis. Silicosis is an inflammatory response by the lungs to invasive particles, such as the dust that so many people inhaled in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Doctors also diagnosed James with emphysema.

James’s ailments caused him to suffer innumerable lung infections, which landed him in the hospital several times. Finally, in May 2019, James’s doctors told him he needed a double-lung transplant to survive.

James and his family were ready for him to go at a moment’s notice once he obtained insurance coverage for the procedure. He just needed a donor. The call came around 1 a.m., and James went to the hospital – ready for his life-saving surgery, which was the first of its kind.

James said he does not feel like he had major surgery to credit his healthcare team at Mount Sinai for their tremendous work. He praised his surgeons’ innovative techniques in performing his double-lung transplant. Those techniques helped him recover faster than he usually would have recovered while reducing life-threatening complications like infection, heart attack, and stroke.  James effusively praised his donor, whose act of kindness also helped save his life.

After Double Lung Surgery

Since his transplant surgery, James has watched his son grow and achieve milestones such as attending his senior prom, graduating from high school, and getting his driver’s license. James would never have been able to see his son grow into a young man without his transplant surgery.

James, like many other 9/11 heroes, needed legal help to obtain vital health insurance for the procedure. James turned to Pitta & Baione, an internationally recognized 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund law firm based in New York City, for expert legal advice on 9/11 benefits. Without Pitta & Baione by his side, James might be in a different position.

Pitta & Baione helped James enroll in the World Trade Center Healthcare Program (WTCHP). The WTCHP provides healthcare coverage, screening, and other related services for first responders who worked at Ground Zero as well as survivors who lived, attended school, or lived in the New York City Exposure Zone and who have covered medical conditions attributable to the 9/11 attacks.

James’s volunteer efforts at Ground Zero in the days that followed September 11 made him eligible for the medical care offered by the WTCHP. However, he could not receive free healthcare under the WTCHP until James’s doctors linked his lung diseases to the toxic dust he breathed in a while volunteering at Ground Zero. His doctors’ opinions – and advocacy from 9/11 victim compensation attorneys of Pitta & Baione – paved the way for James to receive vital healthcare coverage so that he could have this groundbreaking surgery.

James’s lawyers at Pitta & Baione used their vast knowledge and experience to ensure he received vital insurance coverage from the WTCHP.  They can help you receive life-saving medical treatment and monetary compensation for your 9/11-related illness or injury. To date, Pitta & Baione recovered over $300 million for 9/11 victims

If you or a loved one has an illness or medical condition tied to exposure to airborne contaminants from Ground Zero, you may qualify for healthcare coverage and compensation. Call Pitta & Baione today at 844-291-3468 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about the World Trade Center Healthcare Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.