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, 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 idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, 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!”