Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grand Rapids First Heart Transplant

Meijer Heart Center

We've come a long way, baby. From WOODTV:

The first heart transplant to be performed in Grand Rapids happened Saturday night at Spectrum Health's Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, sources told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday evening.

A West Michigan man who turned 50 on Thanksgiving Day received a new heart just two nights later. He's doing well, sources said. 24 Hour News 8 knows his identity but has chosen not to reveal it.

The success of the surgery will have a major impact on the new heart and lung transplant program unveiled earlier this year at Spectrum Health.

In February, the program was approved by the state to perform these surgeries.

Spectrum has to perform 24 transplants within two years to maintain its permits. The program was set-up by one of the doctors who served Daddy DeVos in England back in 1997 - a story that brought some controversy at the time, as it was rumored that the elder DeVos "bought" his transplant overseas after he found it difficult to get on American waiting lists due to his age and physical condition. From the AP story:

Wealthy people may travel around the country looking for centers to take them, (U of M Dr. Keith) Aaronson said. "That's the extent, in the U.S., that money would do anything for you. But you can't buy a heart. If you try and corrupt the system, you'd have to corrupt a whole lot of people."

No comment. UNOS has its system in place, and it's doubtful Spectrum would risk the entire program with favoritism for the wealthy... right? Right. But as they say, "Trust, but verify". That's what regulations are all about - fairness.

Have some faith, and congratulations to my little town for hitting the big time.

UPDATE: The transplant recipient is identified, and coincidentally there is a DeVos connection...

The patient is Rahn Bentley, 50, the brother of former Buffalo Bills football player Ray Bentley, a Hudsonville native and sports broadcaster. Rahn Bentley underwent the transplant surgery at the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, Spectrum officials said.


In September, Bentley attended a Rotary Club luncheon where Amway co-founder Rich DeVos, 84, shared his experience as a heart transplant recipient and his advocacy for organ donation. At the time, Bentley was identified as waiting for a heart transplant, as was Perry Charleston, who was wearing a left ventricular assist device.

Congrats and all the best to Rahn and the Bentley family; may this be the first of many life-saving operations performed in the area. WOOD TV reports that after the hospital has performed ten transplants, they will be eligible for Medicaid patients as well.