Illinois State Police deliver heart from broken down vehicle on I-55

Troopers Sniskso (front) and Cibrian (rear) outside the University of Chicago Medical Center Nov. 26, 2019.

Two Illinois State Police troopers jumped into action Tuesday to deliver a heart needed for surgery from a broken down vehicle on Interstate 55.

The vehicle — which was carrying a UChicago Medicine surgeon, transplant coordinator and medical student, as well as the donated heart — was stopped with a flat tire about 4:15 a.m. when Troopers Cibrian and Snisko found it in the northbound lanes of I-55 near Throop Street, state police said.

After learning about the contents of the vehicle, the troopers immediately loaded the heart and medical staff into their vehicles and rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, state police said.

The troopers were able to transport the heart in time for doctors to successfully complete the surgery, police said.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to transplant surgery,” Ashley Heher, a spokeswoman for UChicago Medicine, said. “There is about a four-to-six hour window of time for a heart to remain viable for surgery and the team had already been traveling for approximately 3 hours.”

The recipient of the transplant is recovering, Heher said.

Cibrian and Snisko were classmates at the Illinois State Police Academy and graduated in August 2018, state police said.

Illinois Department of Transportation Minutemen also arrived to the scene to fix the flat tire.