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Severance 1st Korean hospital to succeed in robot-assisted kidney transplant
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.11.25 18:00
  • Updated 2019.11.25 18:00
  • comments 0

Severance Hospital said that it has become the first local hospital to succeed in a kidney transplant using the Da Vinci surgical system, a robotic technology that allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures.

Professor Hu Gyu-ha

The hospital’s surgery team, led by Professor Hu Gyu-ha, managed to transplant a kidney to a male in his 30s suffering from kidney failure, by using the Da Vinci surgical system. According to the hospital, the patient recovered well without any complications and was discharged healthily last Tuesday.

The patient was diagnosed with chronic renal failure due to hypertension 10 years ago and had been receiving outpatient treatment at another hospital. In the first half of this year, the patient felt an intermittent deterioration of his physical condition. In September, the patient's kidney function aggravated sharply due to uremia, forcing him to receive additional renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis or kidney transplantation.

The patient was fortunate to receive his sister's left kidney, the hospital said.

The world's first robot-assisted kidney transplant was performed at the University of Illinois Hospital in 2010. Since then, it has been performed in some European countries and India. However, this was the first time that the surgery was performed in Korea.

While conventional kidney transplantation had to make a large incision of about 20 centimeters, robot-assisted kidney transplantation only needs to make an incision about 6 cm around the navel.

According to foreign journals, robot-assisted surgeries have a cosmetic effect as it requires only a small incision compared to conventional open surgery, while recovery is also faster as there is less pain involved after surgery. Researches have also found that the risk of wound infection for robot-assisted surgery is lower, and the amount of intraoperative bleeding is also reduced as the surgery area is much smaller.

However, robot-assisted kidney transplant is not yet covered by medical insurance, so there is a cost burden on the patient.

"Currently, robot-assisted kidney transplant is at an introductory stage in Korea and only targets kidney donations from living people," Professor Hu said. "Subjects were selected based on physique, anatomical conditions such as vascular status, and immunological risk."

The team hopes that if more experience is gained, it will be able to extend the operation range to kidney donations from brain-dead donors, the professor added.

Hu also stressed the need for reimbursement for the surgery to reduce the financial burden of patients.


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