Spectrum Health will do lung transplants

July 6, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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Spectrum Health is in the process of setting up a lung transplant program that will become active this year and has hired physician-researcher Reda Girgis, M.D., to serve as its first lung transplant medical director.

Girgis comes from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and started in late June as a member of Spectrum Health Medical Group.

Lung transplants in Michigan are currently done at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor and at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Pat Volz, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association, said the organization is not aware of any others in Michigan.

The U-M lung transplant program is the largest in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation, according to its website, and is used primarily for emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. On average, three to four potential new patients are evaluated there for a lung transplant each week.

According to actuarial research firm Milliman, in 2011 the average total billed charges for a single lung transplant in the U.S. were $561,200, which included $33,500 for the surgeon. For a double-lung transplant, the average billed cost was $797,300, with the physician fee at $56,300.

Spectrum began doing heart transplants in November 2010. The average U.S. heart transplant, according to Milliman, cost almost $1 million in 2011, and a combined heart-lung transplant was nearly $1.25 million.

Girgis will head a multidisciplinary team that will evaluate recipients for lung transplantation and provide preoperative and follow-up care. He will work closely with the cardiothoracic surgical team headed by heart and lung transplant surgeon Ashgar Khaghani, M.D. In addition, he joins other Spectrum Health pulmonologists in caring for patients with advanced lung disease.

“We are fortunate to have a physician of Dr. Girgis’ ability and stature to head our latest transplant endeavor,” said Matthew Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health Delivery System. “He will build another critical service we can provide to the people of West Michigan. His arrival is an important step as we build a regional transplantation program.”

One of Girgis’ primary tasks this summer will be completing applications for both a lung and combined heart-lung transplant program to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that manages the U.S. organ transplant system. Once the programs receive UNOS approval, Spectrum Health can begin listing patients for these transplants.

Girgis was raised in Grand Blanc and earned his medical degree at the University of Cairo in his native Egypt. He completed both his internal medicine residency and pulmonary and critical care fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital. In addition, he obtained advanced fellowship training in heart-lung and lung transplantation at Stanford University Medical Center in California. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine.

“I am extremely excited to return to my home state and help build a new lung transplant program for the residents of western Michigan and beyond,” said Girgis.

Girgis has been at Johns Hopkins since 2000, where he served as associate medical director of lung transplantation and co-director of the pulmonary hypertension program. He also was an associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Girgis has authored or co-authored more than 75 research articles, review papers and medical text chapters. According to Spectrum, he has a long track record in research and has been a principal or co-investigator on several National Institutes of Health grants. He has served as a reviewer for numerous prominent medical journals and has held leadership positions in professional organizations, including the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

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