Spectrum Health marks 100 heart, lung transplants

Grand Rapids
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program completed its 100th heart and lung transplants within days of one another in December.

The lung recipient is 42-year-old Ascenda Denton from Stevensville.

Denton was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 4 years old. The condition can cause chronic bacterial infections. That can lead to inflammation and scarring in the lungs, and therefore a loss of function. Eventually, the damage can necessitate a transplant.

Denton had been in and out of the hospital in the last six months. She was on the transplant list for less than three weeks before she received a new pair of lungs Dec. 24. The surgical team was led by Dr. Edward Murphy.

“I don’t know what I’ll do first. Probably pick up where I left off three or four years ago,” Denton said.

The heart recipient is 62-year-old Elaine Slikkers from Holland.

On Christmas Day 2013, she suffered a heart attack. She was later diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, a rare condition that affects white blood cells in the heart. The condition can also cause an irregular heartbeat.

Slikkers had been on the list for a new year since August. A surgical team led by Dr. Theodore Boeve completed her transplant Dec. 27.

“It makes me feel special in more than one way because it’s number 100, but that I finally got my heart,” said Slikkers. “I would have taken number 99, I would have taken number 98 at that point.”

She and Denton were in good condition Monday as they continued to recover at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program started in 2010. Its first heart transplant was in November 2010 and its first lung transplant in February 2013.

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