In a groundbreaking medical procedure, robotic technology was used for the first time to perform a liver-transplant donor surgery in Colorado. The surgery took place at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and was led by Dr. Trevor Nydam, an expert in robotic surgery, with the assistance of transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas Pshak and Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret, an expert in live-donor transplants.
The use of robotic technology in liver transplants has been perfected overseas, particularly in countries like Saudi Arabia and Korea, where cultural and religious factors limit the availability of deceased-donor organs. In the United States, only about 6% of liver transplants involve living donors, but in Colorado, UCHealth surgeons performed about three-quarters of the state’s liver transplants, making it an ideal location to adopt this new approach.
Studies have shown that robotic surgery offers several advantages in liver transplants, including shorter recovery time, fewer complications, and lower infection and hernia risk. The use of robots allows for much shorter incisions and provides surgeons with enhanced precision and agility, especially in tight spaces.
Danel Kuhlmann, who had previously donated a kidney to her mother, volunteered to be the first robotic liver transplant donor in the region. Kuhlmann recognized the importance of organ donation and wanted to help another family in need. She underwent the surgery successfully and experienced a significantly shorter recovery time.
The successful outcome of this groundbreaking surgery sets the stage for more robotic liver transplant donor surgeries in the future. It is expected that this approach will attract more potential donors with its easier recovery and reduced morbidity. With the expertise and experience of the UCHealth transplant team, Colorado could follow the lead of countries like Saudi Arabia in transitioning to robotic living donor liver transplant surgery.
– University of Colorado School of Medicine