Spectrum Health performs first heart lung transplant

5:21 PM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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Jeffrey Sargent

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- It's been nearly 15 years since a heart lung transplant has been performed in Michigan.

On August 23rd, a team of transplant surgeons at Spectrum Health spent ten hours transplanting a heart and two lungs into 56-year-old Jeffrey Sargent from Rockford.

Sargent, an oil field worker and avid outdoorsman suffered from a condition called Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (IPAH) for six years.

Over time, IPAH leads to an extreme narrowing of the pulmonary artery which causes lower circulation and ultimately right heart failure and death.

Sargent's prognosis for recovery is good. He teared up while addressing reporters how thankful he is for a second chance at life.

"From where I was on the 22nd to now, I don't know how to put it into words. I walked down here from my room, not in a wheelchair. I'm talking to you folks and before I came here I probably would have gotten ten words out and then had to sit down."

Spectrum Health says the cost of the surgery is around $300,000 and is covered by insurance. The heart and lung transplant program gained state approval in 2010 and since then Spectrum Health has performed 32 heart transplants and 9 lung transplants.

Spectrum Health says they believe these types of surgery will be covered under the new Affordable Care Act.

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