Spectrum Health announces new surgical director for heart transplant and VAD programs

Dr. Marzia Leacche Courtesy Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health selected Dr. Marzia Leacche as the Richard DeVos Endowed Heart Transplant and ventricular assist device surgical director for its Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program effective Jan. 1.

“A comprehensive search process was conducted by a multidisciplinary committee, which evaluated both internal and external candidates,” said Darryl Elmouchi, M.D., MBA, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “We are pleased to have excellent talent within our program in Dr. Leacche, who is highly qualified to assume this significant leadership role. We look forward to the vision and leadership she will bring to this position.”

Leacche has been a member of the transplant team since 2016. She has extensive experience and training in thoracic organ transplantation and cardiac surgery. After completing her cardiac surgical training in Rome, Italy, in 2001, Leacche undertook additional fellowship training in cardiac surgery, transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at centers of excellence, including the Montreal Heart Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Between 2010 and 2016, Leacche worked as a staff cardiac and associate transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic.

She is the author of more than 112 peer-reviewed articles, including being the co-investigator for an NIH RO1 grant at Vanderbilt University.

The philanthropy of Richard and Helen DeVos supports the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program. The heart transplant program was established in 2010, and the lung transplant program followed in 2012. To date, the program has carried out 154 heart transplants, 212 lung transplants and two combined heart/lung transplants.

The program also has carried out 443 ventricular assist device (VAD) implants. A VAD is an implantable mechanical pump that helps move blood from the lower chambers of the heart to the rest of the body. It is used in patients with weakened hearts or heart failure — often the same patients who await a donor heart for transplant.

Leacche will partner with Dr. Ryan Grayburn, medical director of heart transplant, in leading the heart transplant program and with Dr. Sangjin Lee, medical director of the VAD program, in leading the VAD program. She also will partner with Dr. Mike Dickinson as the UNOS program co-director for heart transplant.

Dr. Ed Murphy, surgical director of lung transplant, and Dr. Reda Girgis, medical director of lung transplant, will continue to provide leadership for the lung transplant program.

Dr. Theodore Boeve, who has served as surgical director of the heart transplant program since 2017, will remain on staff as a transplant surgeon until summer 2022.

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