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UR Medicine First in Northeast to Perform Robotic-Assisted Transplants for Kidney Recipients

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The UR Medicine Transplant team is the first in the Northeast to perform robotic-assisted transplant surgeries for kidney recipients.

The first recipient to receive a living donor organ robotically using the da Vinci Robotic Surgery System® at UR Medicine's Strong Memorial Hospital underwent surgery in May. Odesi Junor of Brockport, a certified registered nurse anesthetist who works in SMH's operating rooms, suffered from hereditary polycystic kidney disease and got a second chance at life through an altruistic kidney donation. The second robotic recipient case took place in August.

This past year, UR Medicine began using the robotic-assisted technique for living donors, to remove their kidneys for transplant. The significant benefits to donors include minimally invasive surgery, more precision due to better optics and 3D technology, and a shorter recovery period. These benefits prompted transplant surgeon Randeep S. Kashyap, M.D., M.P.H., to consider expanding the use of robotic technology to kidney recipients.

Transplant technique evolves

Robotic surgery is the next evolution of minimally invasive transplantation. As the optics are of an even higher quality, the precision is further improved. The incisions are even smaller, thus less pain, faster recovery and fewer incidence of wound complications.

Under the leadership of Kashyap, UR Medicine has successfully performed more than 25 cases using robotic technology to remove donor kidneys for transplant, in addition to the two kidney recipient cases.

Kashyap trained extensively for the robotic technique with support from his UR Medicine Urology colleagues, who provided 3D printed simulation models, as well as Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, one of only a handful of centers in the nation using robotics for recipient surgeries.

"We are excited to be the first in the Northeast to offer this innovative robotic-assisted technique, with benefits that further improve care for our patients in Upstate New York, both living donors and now recipients," Kashyap said.

"And it broadens the patient population we can help," he added. "For those individuals who are overweight or obese, who in the past were often unable to undergo transplantation due to potential complications, this technique is truly a game-changer. We can now offer more second chances by providing life-saving transplants to wider range of patients."

Making history

The UR Medicine Transplant team is proud to lead with another innovative technique, said Roberto Hernandez-Alejandro, M.D., chief of the Division of Solid Organ Transplant at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"Our talented, driven team continually works to expand the offerings of leading-edge treatments for patients in need of transplants, as seen with this new use of the da Vinci technology," said Hernandez-Alejandro. "This program provides innovations available nowhere else in the Northeast, thanks to the dedication of Dr. Kashyap and the kidney transplant team."

Internationally renowned surgeon and educator Seymour I. Schwartz, M.D., URMC Distinguished Alumni Professor of Surgery, asked to sit in on the first robotic recipient surgery in May. His textbook "Principles of Surgery" is used worldwide by surgeons-in-training and is referred to as the "surgeon's Bible."

"I recall the news of the very first case of living kidney donation, in 1954, when an identical twin donated to their sibling, making history in the world of surgery," Schwartz said. "To witness robotic technology used for a kidney recipient in Rochester, the first in the Northeast, was an awesome experience and truly a privilege."