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Mobile, Ala. (June 20, 2006)
Contact: Bob Lowry, (251) 471-7262

First Minimally Invasive Kidney Removal from Living Donors Performed at USA Medical Center

 
MOBILE - The University of South Alabama Medical Center has recently performed its first two laparoscopic kidney removals, a minimally invasive technique that promotes a speedier recovery for donors. The procedure is a significant step forward in the University’s efforts to increase kidney donations locally and to expand kidney treatment in the community.

 

Kidney donor Jerome Peris, right, and recipient Christopher Hill are all smiles
after participating in USA’s first
minimally invasive kidney removal.

 
“We are taking a more expansive approach to kidney disease and treatment,” said Errol Crook, M.D., Abraham Mitchell chair of internal medicine at USA. “Transplants are one element, but we will also focus on the ‘front-end’ side to identify and treat people with kidney disease.”
 
Lee Hammontree, M.D., of Birmingham performed the June 6 procedures, assisted by Moustafa Hassan, M.D., who is a surgeon in USA’s department of surgery. “Having this option available here will help our population that previously had to travel,” said Hassan, who said he expects to perform the procedures himself very soon. “It’s easier on the donor, and the recovery is quicker than with the ‘open’ procedure.”
The traditional ‘open’ kidney removal operation requires a 6-10 inch incision and up to six weeks of recuperation. By contrast, the minimally-invasive laparoscopic procedure is performed with tiny 7-8 centimeter incisions and donors may leave the hospital in 2-3 days and return to their normal activities within a couple of weeks.
 
The technique employs a laparoscope, which is a tube that contains a tiny video camera. Surgeons watch what they are doing on video monitors that project images from the laparoscope, rather than looking into the body through a large incision.
 
Hassan teamed up with Velma Scantlebury, M.D., surgeon and director of transplantation at USA, who transplanted the kidneys into the recipients.
 
One of the donors was Jerome Peris, a former Pensacola, Fla., resident who now lives in Arkansas. Receiving one of Peris’ kidneys was his lifelong Pensacola friend, Christopher Hill. Both are in their late 30s.
 
“Even though I moved away eight years ago, Chris and I stayed close,” said Peris, who said his wife fully supported his decision to donate one of his kidneys to his friend. “Chris had talked with me about his kidney failure. We talked about blood types and donor lists, and I said ‘What do you have to do to be a donor?’”
 
Peris said he did some research on his own and communicated with the USA Regional Transplant Center. “When they told me of the plans to do the laparoscopic procedure at USA Medical Center, that did it for me,” Peris said.
 
Hill, who was seriously injured in a 1985 accident, had been undergoing daily, four-hour dialysis treatments for three years. “I often felt down, weak and dizzy,” Hill said. “But he (Peris) stood up to the plate for me. Dialysis always kept me close to home, so I’m really looking forward to traveling.”
 
According to the National Kidney Foundation, while 94 percent of kidneys transplanted from cadavers are still functioning well one year after surgery, the percentage is even better - 98 percent - for kidneys transplanted from living donors.
 
Having the minimally invasive technique available at the USA Medical Center increases the opportunities to serve the community’s needs locally. “Nationally, all the growth is in living donor kidneys,” said Michael Culpepper, M.D., director of USA’s division of nephrology. “In talking with other surgeons,” added Hassan, “they said they had more donors come because of the laparoscopic procedure.”
 
One of the keys to growing USA’s kidney treatment program is increased community awareness. “There are local people who have kidney disease and don’t know it,” Crook said. “We want to educate people and help them recognize and avoid risk factors. Diabetes and hypertension, for example, eliminate donors and that rules out many potential African-American donors.”
 
Because USA is located in a region with higher incidences of kidney disease, there are more research opportunities that may lead to better treatments. “We’re in a pipeline to deal with this pre-emptively,” Culpepper said. “Research is vitally important.”
 
USA intends to offer the region a comprehensive kidney program, incorporating education, research and treatment. “When people need extensive services,” said Crook, “we will be here.”
 
 
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University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
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Date last changed: June 22, 2006 10:44 AM
http://www.southalabama.edu/healthsystem/pressreleases/2006pr/062006.html