GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Patients with life threatening lung disease in West Michigan will soon be able to catch their breath.
Spectrum Health announced the hiring of lung transplant pulmonologist Dr. Reda Girgis. Dr. Girgis was most recently with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Right now about 30 West Michigan patients are sent out of the area for lung transplants every year. Dr. Girgis expects Spectrum Health's lung transplant program to be able to perform at least that many within it's first several years.
Many of the patients in West Michigan in need of lung transplants are afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis. Those patients do particularly well with a lung transplant says Dr. Girgis, he adds they have a 70% survival rate 5 years after transplant, one of the highest among all transplant cases.
The Spectrum Health Lung Transplant program still needs to have it's application approved by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) which should take about two months.
The first lung transplant operation could take place this fall. The first 10 transplants will be at no charge to the patient. It's part of the cost of starting the program since the operation won't be covered by insurance until the program has ten successful transplants.