GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., — The man who underwent the first heart and lung transplant in West Michigan was announced to the public Wednesday.
Jeffery Sargent, 56, choked up as he talked about how the surgery has changed his life and thanked the team of doctors at Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center.
“I was very sick,” said Sargent during a press conference. “Getting a new lease on life is hard to get your hands around…It’s been truly, truly a great ride. The people here are just totally incredible.”
The Rockford man underwent the surgery on August 23, 2013. It was the first time the procedure had been performed in West Michigan, and the first time the surgery has been performed in Michigan since 1999.
Doctors are calling Sargent’s recovery “remarkable”. He became a candidate for the surgery after years of fighting a condition called Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. The illness caused the blood flow between his heart and lungs to become progressively worse and eventually led to failure of the right side of his heart.
Sargent said he can’t wait to enjoy being outdoors again and get back to his hobbies of hunting and fishing.