First robotic liver transplant surgery a success

First robotic liver transplant surgery a success

Chitradurga patient cured of terminal disease, say doctors

Because of a terminal illness, the recipient had a diseased liver that was removed prior to the surgery. Post-operation, the boy is doing fine even though he will be on life-long medicine support.

The complicated and expensive surgery – carried out by a team of liver surgeons and doctors from privately owned Medanta Medicity hospital in Gurgaon on September 17 – is possibly India’s first and the world’s third successful case of using robots for removal of donor liver.

Chitradurga resident, four-and-half-years-old Zaid, was the recipient while his 36-year-old maternal uncle Rahmatulla donated 20 per cent of his liver because his parents were not compatible donors. The boy was suffering from a rare metabolic disorder because of which two cancerous lesions grew on both sides of the liver.

An urgent liver transplantation was the only way to save his life. The doctors decided to go for the robotic surgery because there would be few scars and healing would be quicker.

The robotic arms and a camera were sent inside the donor and recipient’s abdomen through tiny abdominal holes.

While the camera provided a three-dimensional view of the abdomen, the surgeons sat on the console and used a hand instrument to move the robot’s hands and fingers in exactly the same fashion as in a real transplant operation.

“The scar caused by five holes was about 14 cm in size compared to the 35-cm scars in case of an open surgery. There is no surgical fatigue and no hand tremors. The robotic arm can go to small crevices where human hands cannot,” said A S Soin, the lead surgeon.

The first surgery for taking out the donor liver went on for seven-and-half hours whereas the transplantation surgery on Zaid took seven hours.

Rahmatulla was discharged after five days while the boy was released after 12 days. The surgery costs about Rs 13.5 lakh.

Robots were earlier used in India for heart and prostate surgeries. This is for the first time it has been used in liver transplant.

The surgery was required because the boy had a rare metabolic disorder called tyrosenemia which led to liver cirrohosis and liver cancer. The diseased liver could not produce a particular enzyme required for protein metabolism.

Even though medicines were given, it was not of much help worsening the boy’s condition. “After surgery, the boy is completely cured of the terminal disease,” said Nelam Mohan, one of the doctors in the team. While the family lives in Chitradurga, Zaid’s father works in Muscat, Oman. They had almost lost hope on Zaid, who now has to take immuno-suppressing drugs – costing Rs 10,000 to 15,000 every month – for the rest of his life.

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