Transplant surgeons at Guy's Hospital perform a UK first

Monday 12 September 2016

The surgical team

Pioneering surgeons at Guy's Hospital have carried out the UK's first ever kidney transplant using robot-assisted keyhole surgery.

The operation, which took place on Saturday 3 September, was led by transplant surgeon Nizam Mamode. Andrew Brooks, 58, who lives near Burgess Hill, in Sussex, received a kidney donated by his wife Tracy. A second operation was carried out the following day on Siobhan Morris, 42, from Beckenham, in Kent. 

Keyhole surgery (also known as laparoscopic surgery) significantly reduces the post-operative pain which a patient experiences and speeds up recovery time.

Professor Mamode says: "The first kidney transplant took place in 1954 and things haven't changed since then - to this day the procedure is still routinely performed using open surgery. Open surgery involves making a large incision in the abdomen – it is very painful and the patient can take weeks to recover.

“Using a robot to help us perform keyhole surgery completely changes the landscape of transplant surgery – it significantly reduces pain and recovery time."

Professor Pranjal Modi, of the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, India, has carried out more than 250 laparoscopic robot-assisted kidney transplants. He flew to London to mentor the surgical team at Guy's during the two operations.

The team, which used one of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust’s two da Vinci Xi robots, travelled to India earlier this year to learn the technique directly from Professor Modi.

Transplant recipient Andrew Brooks, a City insurance underwriter needed a transplant after he developed a genetically inherited condition – polycystic kidney disease.

He says: "My operation started at around midday on Saturday and I came round later that evening - I was up on my feet the following day, which was incredible.

"Recovery from open surgery can take weeks, so being able to go home just a few days afterwards is wonderful."

Siobhan Morris had open surgery for an earlier kidney transplant several years ago, so was able to compare her previous operation with the keyhole surgery she had last week.

"If the agony I felt after my first kidney transplant can be described as a 10, the pain I experienced after this latest transplant was about a two. I've only had to take mild painkillers during recovery – the last time I needed morphine," she says.

Siobhan developed autoimmune disease after the birth of her second child 10 years ago. Her kidneys failed as a result and she received a kidney transplant from her mother.

"Unfortunately, my body eventually started to reject my mum's kidney and doctors decided I would need a second transplant. Luckily a family member stepped forward and donated a kidney. My hope is that this new one will give me my life back and enable me to go back to being a full-time mum," she says.

Professor Mamode adds: "Carrying out laparoscopic operations in this way is a major development, making kidney transplants more bearable for patients and potentially saving the NHS money."

Last updated: September 2016

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