TUF-funded surgeons perform UK's first robotic kidney transplant

TUF is celebrating a double success as TUF-funded surgeons have carrid out the UK's first robotic kidney transplant.

Guy's Hospital and The Royal Free Hospital in London are the UK's two first hospitals in the country to carry out kidney transplants with the help of a surgical robot.

Two patients at Guys and two patients at the Royal Free received kidney transplants at the end of last year with the help of da Vinci robots.

The procedure at the Royal Free was carried out by robotic surgery consultant, Ravi Barod, and consultant transplant surgeon Neal Banga. Ravi received funding from TUF in 2006 towards his PhD and was then awarded a robotic surgery fellowship grant from TUF between 2014-16.

Ravi said: “This is a very exciting breakthrough which will enable patients to have transplants when previously they would not have been eligible. We are the second centre in the UK to offer robotic kidney transplants and the 11th or 12th in the world. Less than 300 people in the world have had robotic kidney transplants, so this is very big news.”

Robotic surgery allows the donated kidney to be transplanted into the recipient patient using keyhole surgery. This means that the patient has a much smaller wound compared to a traditional open kidney transplant.

In the future, the surgeons hope that this technique can be used for overweight patients who would not otherwise have been suitable for an open kidney transplant.

Ravi travelled to The Vattikuti Urology Institute in Detroit for his robotic surgery fellowship where he was able to practice the robotic technique of transplantation. He also travelled to Belgium and to India.

Ravi said: “A technical advantage is that the robotic instruments have a greater range of movement than the human hand, which allows us to perform the operation with more accuracy. The robot allows you to put the kidney in using smaller incisions, which means less blood loss, less pain, and a smaller wound. All this means that the patient is likely to make a quicker recovery and return to regular activities.

“I am very excited about the programme going forward - not just to improve the experience of patients but to also offer patients who would not otherwise be able to have surgery, the chance of having a life-changing kidney transplant. We hope to carry out 10-15 robot-assisted transplants this year and have already performed six.

“None of this would have been possible without funding from TUF and I am so grateful to the charity.”

Vick Patel and Angelika Jakowliew were the two patients at the Royal Free undergoing the kidney transplants. Vick Patel, 46, from North London, said:

“I feel this new procedure contributed to a much faster recovery, so I’m really pleased to have been involved.”

Robotic surgery consultant Ben Challacombe who is a TUF trustee and previously received funding from TUF was also involved in the first robotic kidney transplants which took place at Guys Hospital.


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