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Robotic kidney transplant in London a first in Canada

A London hospital has kept love alive with a procedure that is a first in Canada.

Using a robot, surgeons at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) removed a kidney from Walkerton’s Kelley Kunkel with a single incision.

The recipient was her diabetic husband, Steve, who was in kidney failure and faced a lifetime of dialysis without the transplant.

Dr. Patrick Luke and Dr. Alp Sener performed the surgery using the da Vinci robotic surgical system.

A perfect match to her husband medically as well as romantically, Kelley said in a press release that she didn’t hesitate when she had the chance to give her husband a new lease on life. But she was happy when she found out her kidney would be removed through an incision just six centimetres wide.

“Dr. Sener said the recovery time would be shorter with this method, and he was right,” she said. “I was out of the hospital in three days, and had a fully healed incision within four weeks. You can’t even tell I had surgery now.”

Sener said that by using Lapro-Endoscopic Single Site Surgery (LESS) on living kidney donors, the hospital minimizes risk and gets donors back to their normal routine sooner.

Luke, co-director of the hospital’s multi-organ transplant program, said the new procedure could inspire more people to give of themselves.

“Living donors are selflessly offering a part of themselves to another human, with full knowledge that their lives will also be impacted by this gift,” he said. “If we can utilize technology and medical innovation to help reduce that impact, perhaps more individuals will consider living-donor kidney donation in the future.”

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