Spectrum Health Performs West Michigan’s First Lung Transplant

59-Year-Old Man Received New Lung February 4

Spectrum Health surgeons performed the first lung transplant in West Michigan on Monday, February 4, at the Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center. Joseph Steponski, 59, of Wyoming, Michigan, emerged from surgery that morning and is in good condition.

Steponski received a single, right-lung transplant. A team headed by cardiothoracic surgeon Asghar Khaghani, MD, performed the transplant. He was assisted by cardiothoracic surgeon Robert Hooker, MD.

“Our patient’s prognosis for a strong recovery and continued success appear good at this time,” said Reda Girgis, MD, medical director of the lung transplant program. “Mr. Steponski is focused on his recovery and what is required to maintain his health.”

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

“This is a milestone for us and for West Michigan,” said Matt Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health Delivery System. “This means another group of West Michigan patients can receive this highly specialized care in their community, reducing travel, costs and stress to them and their families.”

Steponski suffered from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a disease of unknown cause that leads to progressive scarring of the lungs. Before the transplant, his lung function had fallen to less than half of normal and he had severe shortness of breath with minimal physical activity, requiring continuous supplemental oxygen. He was referred for transplantation by Wael Berjaoui, MD, a pulmonologist with the Spectrum Health Medical Group.

“Everyone involved with Mr. Steponski’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. “Mr. Steponski’s recovery so far has been remarkable.”

The lung transplant team is part of the Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program. Other physicians involved with the transplant procedure included cardiothoracic surgeons Edward Murphy, MD, and Tomasz Timek, MD, along with anesthesiologists Penny Wilton, MD, Matthew Parlmer, DO, and William Telford, DO.

Spectrum Health has one of three adult heart and lung transplant programs in Michigan and received state approval in February 2010. Girgis came to Spectrum Health in July of 2012 and the program received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to begin listing patients for lung transplantation in December of 2012.

Mr. Steponski 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 in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 700 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 600,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 19,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.