SA university’s ground-breaking kidney transplant

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A team at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, performed an Africa-first kidney transplant from a living donor to a recipient through a procedure referred to as a pure laparoscopic donor nephrectomy.

The Times reports that the recent operation was carried out with laparoscopic instruments only and no hands being inserted into the abdomen.

“The procedure was the first of its kind at the institution and to our knowledge in Africa‚ since it is a non-hand assisted one. The ones done in other institutions in South Africa have been hand-assisted‚” the university is quoted in the report as saing. “The team performed what is called a total laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy that is a process where laparoscopy is used to harvest the kidney from a donor so that the kidney can be transplanted into the recipient‚” it explained.

It added that there was a very large pool of people waiting for donations‚ especially kidneys. “The traditional source of organs is people who are deceased‚ which are called cadaveric donors.”

The problem with cadaveric kidney donations is that they don’t work as well as the living donor. “One of the reasons on why people are reluctant to donate is that they don’t want scars and suffering from the pains of the operation. The advantage of the laparoscopy is that you don’t make a big cut‚ you put cameras in and make a small cut to transplant the kidney and the pain is much less. The recipient (patient) recovers very quickly‚ and it is more attractive to the donors.”

According to the report, the university said the surgical and functional results were acceptable and that the donor and the recipients were currently recovering at Dr George Mukhari Hospital. “Surgical time was 100 minutes‚ with estimated blood loss of 50 ml. The experience of the team was crucial during the transplantation procedure‚ due to the complex technique that requires previous experience in vascular and laparoscopic surgery.”

The Times report

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