Spectrum Health Announces New Surgical Director for Heart Transplant and VAD Programs

Dr. Marzia Leacche will serve as Richard DeVos Endowed Chair of Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., October 30, 2020 – Spectrum Health has selected Marzia Leacche, MD, as the Richard DeVos Endowed Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Surgical Director for its Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program effective Jan. 1, 2021. Dr. Leacche has been a member of the transplant team since 2016. 

 A comprehensive search process was conducted by a multidisciplinary committee, which evaluated both internal and external candidates,” said Darryl Elmouchi, MD, MBA, president, Spectrum Health West Michigan. We are pleased to have excellent talent within our program in Dr. Leacche, who is highly qualified to assume this significant leadership role. We look forward to the vision and leadership she will bring to this position. 

 The Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program is supported by the generous philanthropy of Richard and Helen DeVos. The heart transplant program was established in 2010, and the lung transplant program followed in 2012. To date, the program has carried out 154 heart transplants, 212 lung transplants, and two combined heart/lung transplants –the only program in the state to do so during that time period.  

 The program also has carried out 443 VAD implants. A ventricular assist device (VAD) is an implantable mechanical pump that helps move blood from the lower chambers of the heart to the rest of the body. It is used in patients with weakened hearts or heart failure—often the same patients who await a donor heart for transplant. 

 Dr. Leacche has extensive experience and training in thoracic organ transplantation and cardiac surgery. After completing her cardiac surgical training in Rome in 2001, Dr. Leacche undertook additional fellowship training in cardiac surgery, transplantation and mechanical circulatory support (MCS) at centers of excellence including the Montreal Heart Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  

 Between 2010 and 2016, Dr. Leacche worked as a staff cardiac and associate transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Cleveland Clinic.  

 Dr. Leacche has an impressive research portfolio. She is the author of more than 112 peer-reviewed articles, including being the co-investigator for a NIH RO1 grant at Vanderbilt University. 

 In addition, Dr. Leacche is leading a national group of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) surgeons to advance the field in minimally invasive LVAD implantation. She also was chosen to serve on the committee tasked with updating the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation MCS guidelines; and nominated to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Workforce on end-stage cardiopulmonary disease based on her transplantation expertise.  

 Dr. Leacche will partner with Ryan Grayburn, MD (medical director of heart transplant), in leading the heart transplant program and with Sangjin Lee, MD (medical director of the VAD program), in leading the VAD program. She will also partner with Mike Dickinson, MD, as the UNOS Program co-director for heart transplant. Dr. Dickinson also is medical director of heart failure programs. Ed Murphy, MD (surgical director of lung transplant), and Reda Girgis, MD (medical director of lung transplant), will continue to provide leadership for the lung transplant program. 

 Dr. Leacche will serve as Richard DeVos Endowed Chair of Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Surgical Director and Dr. Murphy will hold the role of Richard DeVos Endowed Surgical Director of Lung Transplantation. 

 Dr. Theodore Boeve, who has served as surgical director of the heart transplant program since 2017, will remain on staff as a transplant surgeon until summer 2022. 

 “I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Boeve. We appreciate his assistance through this transition and his ongoing support of our program,” Dr. Elmouchi said. “Under his leadership, our heart transplant and MCS programs have seen tremendous growth and improvement in quality scores, research contributions and teamwork.” 



People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our long and continuing legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Our award-winning team improves health, inspires hope and saves lives across 13 counties in West Michigan. We bring together 11 hospitals—including Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, with expert care from 350+ pediatric specialists in 70+ specialties and programs—three rehabilitation and nursing centers, 120 outpatient sites and telehealth services. We are proud to work with 4,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, including Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan.

Tim Hawkins
Media Relations
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