Spectrum Health Transplant Program gave me more days at the lake.

Spectrum Healthgave me moredays at the lake

To help our patients return to the lives they love, Spectrum Health offers high-level transplantation capabilities for adults and children.

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Heart transplants from Spectrum Health
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Heart Transplant

Spectrum Health has been working with transplant patients for more than 10 years. Our advanced heart failure and transplant clinic is the only multidisciplinary outpatient heart failure clinic in Grand Rapids and the largest in West Michigan, caring for more than 1,000 patients each year.

We work with:
Heart transplant patients
Heart failure patients
Patients with implanted devices

We provide advanced heart care and services including:
Heart transplantation
Heart transplant care management
Complex consultations for cardiovascular surgery
Cardiogenic shock management
Mechanical circulatory assistance (VAD)

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Lung Transplant from Spectrum Health
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Lung Transplant

Lung transplant is a growing and viable option for people with a variety of advanced lung diseases with the potential to prolong life and improve quality of life. Our comprehensive lung transplant program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation of patients through post-transplant care.

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Kidney transplants from Spectrum health
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Kidney Transplant

Ranked by 2014-2015 US News & World Report Best Children's Hospitals in nephrology; third year in a row.

At Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, our pediatric kidney transplantation program began in 2005 to provide families kidney transplantation services that were close to home or convenient for travel.

Since that time, our kidney transplantation team has performed 43 transplants. We work closely with you to support the process and your child's health, every step of the way. Our innovative research program means state-of-the art care for every patient.

We are nationally recognized for our steroid-avoidance protocol for children with new transplants.

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Kidney transplants from Spectrum health
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Save Lives

Become an Organ Donor

More than 3,400 very sick Michigan residents are waiting today for organ transplants and a new shot at life. Thousands of others need tissue to relieve their pain, heal their wounds and help them see again. You have the power to help them. If you don't already have a red heart emblem on your license or ID, please do so today. Your legacy awaits.


Megan - Kidney transplant patient at Spectrum Health hopsitals
Pediatric Kidney Transplant

What happens when breakthrough research helps a child lead a more normal life?

Megan Morrill and her mom, Jill, have a special bond that goes beyond just mother and daughter. Megan has one of her mom's kidneys, following transplant surgery in May.

But that is just part of the story. Thanks to a new treatment protocol pioneered at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Megan does not need steroids for anti-rejection and therefore can avoid the negative side effects associated with these medications.

That's because Megan's physician team of kidney specialists wanted to make sure she and other patients got more than just a new kidney. They wanted her to have a better quality of life.

The Vision

The pediatric nephrology team was concerned about the negative effect steroids had in protecting children from rejecting their newly transplanted kidney. There had to be a better way to prevent the telltale swollen "moon face," and the potential for diabetes and stunted growth, all side effects of Prednisone, an anti-rejection steroid medicine.

The team believed that post-transplant protocols requiring adults to use long-term steroids did not necessarily apply to children. They designed a study protocol to see if rapidly weaning the children off the steroid treatment would still protect the new kidney.

Nineteen of the program's 25 kidney transplant patients were treated with the new protocol, and Megan was one of 17 patients for whom it was a success. The other two patients were weaned off the medicine more slowly but are doing well.

The Program

Kidney transplantation is just one aspect of the largest pediatric kidney treatment program in West Michigan based at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health. A team of pediatric nephrologists provide treatment for nearly 7,000 patient visits each year for a variety of kidney disorders, some of which involve outpatient hemodialysis or home peritoneal dialysis management.

The Results

Of the 25 patients who have undergone a kidney transplant since the program began in 2005, none of the new kidneys have been rejected.

The pedicatric nephrology team is equally proud of how well Megan and the other patients are doing now, being able to live a more normal life. The best part is looking at a school class picture in which you can't guess which child has had a kidney transplant.

Brody - Pediatric kidney transplant patient at Spectrum Health hospitals
Pediatric Kidney Transplant

A Mother's Day Story

The Unwanted Surprise

When Lori Herbst had an ultrasound at 21 weeks, she wasn't expecting anything unusual. She had a healthy daughter, Joslyn, who was nearly two. She enjoyed her busy career as a schoolteacher, had a loving husband and a beautiful home a stone's throw from Gun Lake, Michigan. So, when the ultrasound revealed something was wrong her baby's kidneys, she and her husband weren't alarmed at first — until a doctor said to her as they sought advice, "You could terminate this pregnancy."

She admits, "That's when panic set in." Her husband, Cory, asked, "Does he have a chance?" The doctor replied, "Yes, but we have no idea about his condition." Fortunately, they soon found themselves at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, where pediatric kidney specialists were encouraging. "Kids don't die of kidney disease. Let's see what we can do."

The Welcome Arrival

The baby's condition, posterior urethral valves, caused hydronephrosis, which causes urine to collect in the kidneys, not allowing it to pass. It was only one of the issues Lori's unborn son would face as her pregnancy continued. Fortunately, they weathered the storms. On October 9, 2008, Brody Herbst was born at 32 weeks, swollen from water retention and underdeveloped. The good news was that his left kidney had some function. Due to his in-utero struggles, however, he faced a host of additional challenges. It would be four weeks before the Herbsts could even hold their baby.

A New World

Lori and Cory tag teamed with the Helen DeVos Children's neonatal staff, learning terms like "jet ventilator" and "CPAP." Abundant support from family, friends and colleagues kept them going, as Lori reveals, "Work, home, the hospital — it was a juggle. Sometimes thhere wasn't even time for a shower." They leaned on their close relationships with the Helen DeVos Children's experts and staff, their outside support network and Lori's strong organizational skills. They learned how to care for Brody at home, from feeding tubes and catheters to weight checks, blood pressure readings and what to watch for. With time of service from Brody's functioning left kidney, the Herbsts dove in, foreseeing years before they would have to face next steps.

Fate had a different timetable. When Brody was just three years old, infections, dialysis and other factors could no longer be managed. Lori recalls, "We were out of time."

A Mother's Gift

On Valentine's Day 2012, both of Brody's kidneys were removed. Four days a week on dialysis kept him alive, and his dialysis team grew to love Brody almost as much as he loved them. It was time for a kidney transplant. Not only was his mom a perfect match, but thanks to the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital kidney transplant program, Brody could receive his life-saving surgery surrounded by family and friends. With Mother's Day approaching, Lori gave her left kidney to her son on May 8, 2012. It was a gift that she gave willingly and will a full heart. "For a parent, having a sick child is the most helpless feeling," Lori said. "When I learned that I was a match and could give Brody one of my kidneys, I was elated. I could do something for my child that was going to make a huge difference in his life." Lori's kidney started working right away in Brody's body and the team reported that her kidney was "beautiful."

Today at age 4 1/2, Brody is an intellectual darling, adept at video games after years of forced quiet, able to eat favorite foods like cheese balls and sweetly, oh-so-thoughtfully chat with any visitor — especially if you happen to like football. He is full of energy, is eating well, and with growth spurts, is now on the growth charts. In the past 8 months, he has grown three inches! Amid carefully crafted photo albums chronicling the Herbst family journey, Lori holds a white envelope. "It's a letter to Brody from Dr. Quiroga, his nephrologist," she says, "He wrote it when we did the surgery and asked us to give it to Brody on his 18th birthday." Reflecting on her own role in Brody's health, she says she feels like nothing at all happened to her and wonders why more people don't donate their kidneys. "It's so easy!" she notes. "We don't know what the future holds, but we know it will be great. If he needs another transplant, we know we're in the right place."

And, Brody has learned a lot as well. He knows that he needs to get a certain amount of liquids in each day and will tell others that "milk is a liquid". He is still processing the surgery that took place almost a year ago and often brings it up out of the blue. "I have Mommy's kidney," Brody says. "We both have one kidney."

Jeff - Heart & Lung transplant patient at Spectrum Health hospitals
Adult Heart & Lung Transplant

A Second Chance

Jeff Sargent

When you meet Jeff Sargent, you see a strong, sturdy man who speaks with energy and enthusiasm. You would never guess that less than two years ago, Jeff had a combined heart and double lung transplantation at the age of 56. He is back to working part time as a heavy equipment operator and loves to chop wood, hunt and fish.

"I feel great and couldn't be happier with the care I received, and continue to receive, at Spectrum Health," Jeff said. "I wouldn't have lived another six months if I hadn't had the transplant. But Dr. Girgis knew I had the stamina to handle it—even after another medical center said I was too sick for a transplant."

"Jeff was a very sick man when he came to us with the worst case of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension I had ever seen," said Reda Girgis, MD, medical director of the lung transplant program. "Jeff is a remarkably strong man in both mind and body, and that helped make his transplant a success."

Dr. Girgis was right about Jeff's spirit and stamina. He has made an amazing recovery and continues to impress the transplant team with his progress.

Jeff's combined transplant was the first of its kind in Michigan since 1999. He was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), which causes blood to flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. The pulmonary arteries become extremely narrowed, leading to restriction of the pulmonary circulation, a progressive rise in pulmonary artery pressure and, ultimately, right heart failure. There is no known cause for IPAH, but the condition can lead to death, and for Jeff hope was running out.

"Jeff was determined to be too high of a risk for a lung transplant alone because of his right heart failure and was rejected by another center. He was told that nothing could be done for him," said cardiologist Michael Dickinson, MD, medical director of Spectrum Health's Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program. "Because of the expertise and tremendous experience of Dr. Khaghani in heart, lung and combined heart/lung transplants, we were able to offer Jeff this procedure. We are very pleased that we were able to go beyond the norm and provide him with a lifesaving option."

"It took the stress out of the process to have the surgery in Grand Rapids near my home in Rockford," Jeff explained. "I've lived a wonderful life and can look forward to many more years thanks to the transplant. I feel terrific!"

Frank - Lung transplant patient at Spectrum Health hospitals
Adult Lung Transplant

Back in the Circle

The Grand Entry of September's annual Grand Valley American Indian Lodge Powwow in Grand Rapids marked a special day for Frank Pearo. The symbolic start of the Powwow marked the first time in seven years the 61 year-old Hesperia Native American was able to participate in tribal dancing.

The condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, robbed Frank of the ability to dance and eventually moving just a few feet became a chore. He began his return to the dance ring in May of 2013, when he underwent a right-lung transplant at Spectrum Health.

Getting back to his heritage

Frank at the Powwow

"This gives me a good feeling in my heart," said Frank about rejoining his friends in the dance ring. "This has always been very important to me — it's my heritage." Frank is of Chippewa and Ottawa descent and a member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a disease that leads to progressive scarring of the lung tissue. Over time, the lungs become increasingly stiff and difficult to expand, resulting in shortness of breath. Eventually, the ability of the lungs to extract oxygen from the blood becomes impaired, ultimately leading to respiratory failure.

"Franks' case was severe — he was dying," said pulmonologist Reda Girgis, MD, medical director of Spectrum Health's lung transplantation program. "His ability to receive a lung transplant was complicated by the fact he'd previously undergone heart bypass surgery, which makes for a more complicated surgical procedure to remove the old lungs. One transplant program had already turned him down but because of the tremendous experience and expertise of our surgeons, we were able to help him. It's always rewarding to see someone return to a great quality of life."

A donor's gift

As he worked to regain his strength, Frank often thought of the donor gift that made his return to dancing possible. Sixteen months after his surgery, he still gets emotional when discussing his gift of life. "If I met this donor's family, I could never thank them enough. They gave me my life back."

Spectrum Health Hospitals in Grand Rapids, MI
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About Us

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 11 hospitals including Helen DeVos Children's Hospital; 173 ambulatory and service sites; 1,200 physicians and advanced practice providers including members of Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a 626,000-member health plan. Spectrum Health is West Michigan's largest employer with 21,800 employees. The organization provided $294.6 million in community benefit during its 2014 fiscal year. In 2014, Spectrum Health was named one of the nation's 15 Top Health Systems® by Truven Health Analytics.

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