Spectrum Health Names International Expert as Heart Transplant Surgeon

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 8, 2010  – One of the world’s leading thoracic transplant surgeons has been named the lead surgeon for Spectrum Health’s heart transplantation program. Asghar Khaghani, MD, of the United Kingdom will assume his duties in Grand Rapids in late September.

Khaghani is currently a consultant in cardiothoracic surgery at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust in England, where he has performed more than 1,000 heart transplants and more than 5,000 cardiovascular surgeries. He also is an international expert in mechanical circulatory assist devices and one of the most experienced ventricular assist device (VAD) surgeons in Europe.

In addition, a major gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation will assist with creation of the program. In recognition of this gift, the program has been named the Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program. The program, along with Spectrum Health’s other cardiovascular services, will be part of the recently announced Frederik Meijer Heart and Vascular Institute.

“This is a tremendous start for our heart and lung transplantation program—a world renowned transplant surgeon and major gift to launch our program,” said Matt Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health and president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group. “This is a significant benefit to the people of West Michigan to have someone of Dr. Khaghani’s caliber join us as well as the resources to help establish the program.”

Dr. Khaghani will work in partnership with physicians from West Michigan Cardiothoracic Surgeons and existing medical staff in developing the transplant program. Van Vranken noted that Khaghani also will be a valuable asset as Spectrum Health continues to build its partnerships with research entities such as the Van Andel Institute and the MSU College of Human Medicine. “In addition to being one of the finest cardiothoracic surgeons in the world, he also is an internationally renowned researcher, and has great experience in training and mentoring surgeons.”

Born in Tabriz, Iran, Khaghani earned his medical degree from Istanbul University in 1972, and trained and worked at multiple hospitals in Great Britain until 1981.

In 1981, he began cardiac and transplantation surgery at Harefield Hospital in England under the supervision and mentorship of Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub. Now retired from active surgery, Sir Magdi is considered to be one of the world’s greatest heart surgeons and pioneered many of the heart, and heart and lung transplant techniques in use today. Sir Magdi has consulted with Spectrum Health about its heart program since 2002.

Khaghani has been a cardiothoracic transplant surgeon at Harefield since the inception of its transplant program. He also is considered a pioneer in this field, and has contributed numerous innovations to heart and lung transplantation. Khaghani has served as director of transplantation at Harefield and consults weekly on the transplantation and mechanical circulatory cases. Many of the most difficult cases are referred to him.

Clinical and basic scientific research has been an integral part of Khaghani’s career for more than 25 years. He has published over 130 papers and book chapters. He is a member of the board of directors of the research-based Magdi Yacoub Institute and has been a principal investigator for some of the VAD devices Spectrum Health now uses. In addition, he has given more than 200 presentations and lectures around the world.

Khaghani has many professional affiliations including the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, British Medical Association, British Cardiovascular Society, International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgeons.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of eight hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, mmpc® and West Michigan Heart—physician groups totaling more than 400 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 580,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 16,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care. The organization provided $79.4 million in community benefit during its 2009 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards since it was formed in 1997.

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