Health Care and Human Resources

Transplant program reaches milestones

February 6, 2018
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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

A local surgical program dedicated to organ transplants has reached two significant milestones.

Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program said last month it completed its 100th heart transplant and 100th lung transplant.

Ascenda Denton, 42, of Stevensville, the lung recipient, and Elaine Slikkers, 62, of Holland, the heart recipient, were both in good condition afterward.

Part of the Frederik Meijer Heart and Vascular Institute located at the downtown Meijer Heart Center, the program completed its first heart transplant in November 2010 and its first lung transplant in February 2013.

Spectrum Health said it is the only program in the state to carry out a combined heart and lung transplant in the past 18 years, completing one in 2013 and another in 2015.

Spectrum Health officials stressed the importance of community support, expertise and teamwork in building the program, which they said is the only program of its kind located on the west side of the state.

“Our goal was to offer these complex procedures in West Michigan so patients could receive transplants close to home where they have the support of their family and friends,” said Tina Freese Decker, EVP and COO, Spectrum Health. “I am so proud of our exceptional transplant team and their dedication to making this a high-quality program on behalf of our patients.

“This is also a testament to the invaluable support of our philanthropic donors and the West Michigan community that placed its confidence and trust in our program.”

A surgical team led by Dr. Edward Murphy completed the minimally invasive bilateral lung transplant on Dec. 24, the program’s 100th lung transplant. Dr. Murphy was assisted by Andrew Sporte, RN, Jared Slenk, RN, and anesthesiologists Dr. Andrew Baudo and Dr. Daniel Nadeau. The organ recovery team was led by Dr. Charles Willekes and included transplant call specialist Dennis Junga. The team also carried out the program’s 101st lung transplant later that day.

On Dec. 27, a surgical team led by Dr. Theodore Boeve and Dr. Marzia Leacche completed the program’s 100th heart transplant. They were assisted by Bethany Hammer, RN, Josh Smith, RN, and anesthesiologists Dr. Mark Wedder and Dr. Matthew Parlmer. The organ recovery team was led by Dr. Tomasz Timek, who was assisted by Jeff Sutliff of Michigan Gift of Life and included transplant call specialist Kari Hibbard.

“I know I speak for our entire team when I say how honored we are to do this work for our patients,” Boeve said. “Our team is grateful to Fred and Lena Meijer and the many other community donors who supported this beautiful facility, which is not just a great work environment, but helps us recruit and retain world-class physician talent. We are also grateful to Richard and Helen DeVos for a gift that provided the cornerstone of our heart and lung transplant program.”

Boeve added that “these gifts were intended to help provide excellent medical care to our community.”

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