Health Care

Spectrum Health completes first combined heart-and-lung transplant in West Michigan

September 12, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Spectrum Health completes first heart-and-lung transplant in West Michigan
Spectrum Health cardiothoracic surgeons Dr. Asghar Khaghani, right, and Dr. Tad Boeve perform a combined heart and lung transplant. Courtesy of Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health surgeons have performed the first combined heart-and-lung transplant in West Michigan at the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center.

Jeffery Sargent, 56, of Rockford, is reported in good condition.

The team

A team headed by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Asghar Khaghani, surgical director of Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Lung Transplant Program, performed the transplant on August 23.

He was assisted by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Theodore Boeve and anesthesiologists Dr. Penny Wilton, Dr. Marc Sink and Dr. Matthew Palmer.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Tomasz Timek was also part of the surgery.

“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,” Khaghani said. “His recovery so far has been remarkable.”

It was the first such combined procedure in Michigan since 1999 and the 15th ever in the state, according to a Spectrum Health announcement.

“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.”

The disease

Sargent suffered from Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

Blood normally flows from the right side of the heart to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries, according to Spectrum. In IPAH, the pulmonary arteries become extremely narrowed, leading to restriction of pulmonary circulation, a progressive rise in pulmonary artery pressure and, ultimately, heart failure and death. There is no known cause. IPAH also can be hereditary or associated with other conditions.

Sargent’s disease was being managed by Dr. Jeffrey Wilt, at the Spectrum Health Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic.

“Told that nothing could be done for him”

Despite being treated with advanced medical therapy, including a continuous intravenous infusion of a drug called epoprostenol, his condition continued to deteriorate, and he 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 usually able to recover. Unfortunately, some patients have such severe disease that they cannot survive with just a lung transplant, said cardiologist Dr. Michael Dickenson, 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,” Dickinson said. “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 Dr. Reda Girgis, 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.”


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.  

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