Spectrum Health Performs West Michigan’s First Heart and Lung Transplant

First Michigan Combined Transplant in 14 Years

Spectrum Health surgeons performed the first combined heart and lung transplant in West Michigan on Friday, August 23, at the Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center. Jeffery Sargent, 56, of Rockford, emerged from surgery that morning and is in good condition.

A team headed by cardiothoracic surgeon Asghar Khaghani, MD, surgical director of Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Lung Transplant Program, performed the transplant. He was assisted by cardiothoracic surgeon Theodore Boeve, MD, and anesthesiologists Penny Wilton, MD, Marc Sink, MD, and Matthew Palmer, MD. Cardiothoracic surgeon Tomasz Timek, MD, also was involved in the procedure.

“Everyone involved with Mr. Sargent’s care, from the team managing his lung disease, to the teams performing his surgery and postoperative care, has done a tremendous job,” said Khaghani. “His recovery so far has been remarkable.”

The transplant was the first such combined procedure done in Michigan since 1999 and the 15th ever done in the state.

“This is a milestone for us and for West Michigan,” said Matthew G. Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health Delivery System. “Our program is maturing and West Michigan patients continue to receive highly specialized care in their region, reducing travel, costs and stress to them and their families.”

Sargent suffered from Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (IPAH). Blood flows from the right side of the heart to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. In IPAH, the pulmonary arteries become extremely narrowed leading to restriction of the pulmonary circulation, a progressive rise in pulmonary artery pressure and ultimately, right heart failure and death. There is no known cause. IPAH also can be hereditary or associated with other conditions.
Mr. Sargent’s disease was being managed by Jeffrey Wilt, MD, at the Spectrum Health Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic. Despite being treated with advanced medical therapy, including a continuous intravenous infusion of a drug called epoprostenol, his condition continued to deteriorate and was referred for transplant.

Most transplants performed for IPAH in the U.S. are double lung. Once the pressure is normalized, the right heart is able to recover. Unfortunately, some patients have such severe disease that they cannot survive with just a lung transplant, said cardiologist Michael Dickenson, MD, medical director of Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program.

“Mr. Sargent was determined to be too high of a risk for a lung transplant alone and was rejected by another center. He was told that nothing could be done for him,” said Dickinson. “Because of the expertise and tremendous experience of Dr. Khaghani in heart, lung and combined heart/lung transplants, we were able to offer Mr. Sargent this procedure. We are very pleased that we were able to go beyond the norm and provide Mr. Sargent a lifesaving option.”

“While considerable progress has been made in the medical therapy of IPAH, it remains a disease with a high mortality rate. When patients fail to respond adequately to treatment, transplantation should be considered early,” said pulmonologist Reda Girgis, MD, medical director of the lung transplant program. “Our patient’s prognosis for a strong recovery and continued success appear good at this time. Mr. Sargent is focused on his recovery and what is required to maintain his health.”

A medical team led by Dickinson and Girgis will closely monitor Sargent’s progress after he leaves the hospital and watch for organ rejection issues.

Spectrum Health has one of three adult heart and lung transplant programs in Michigan and received state approval in February 2010. The first heart transplant was performed there in November of 2010 and the first lung was transplanted in February of this year.

Sargent and his physicians wish to thank the organ donor and that individual’s family for the generosity of this life-saving gift. Without donors, there are no transplants. To learn more about organ donation or become a donor, go to

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 10 hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 130 ambulatory and service sites; 975 advanced practice providers and employed physicians including members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart physician groups; and Priority Health, a health plan. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 20,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.