“Everyone has heard laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive; there’s less incisions, cosmetically there’s less of a scar and people feel recovered sooner,” says Dr. Barry Blitz, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
The use of laparoscopic surgery is nothing new, but doctors are finding a new benefit to the procedure when it comes to kidney donation.
“If you’re having less pain, you’re recovered sooner, you’re back to work sooner, it cosmetically looks better - it’s attracting more people,” says Dr. Blitz.
That’s the end result for the transplant team at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Demands for kidneys outpace supply, so they had to make changes.
“One of the things that we have expanded in kidney transplant, rather than relying as we have historically on deceased donors, is to go to what are called living donor transplants,” says Barbara Miller, director of kidney transplant.
Operating through a series of poke holes, the laparoscopic technique inserts a camera and tools through a small tube. The donor kidney is carefully detached and removed from the patient. Instead of a 10-inch incision, the organ is retrieved through a 3-4 inch opening.
“Some finds early on that suggested that a kidney removed in a laparoscopic approach was not quite as good. However that’s pretty much old data now. Most recent data show no significant difference between the two,” says Dr. Blitz.
It’s hoped this new approach will open up more opportunities for, people willing to give piece of themselves.