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Two Families Pull Off Multiple-Donor Kidney Transplants

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WGN and Fox News recently interviewed two families -- one from Chicago, the other from Michigan -- involved in a living-donor kidney swap here at UI Hospital. Rhonda McClarn of Chicago received a kidney from Megan Randall of Michigan.  In turn, McClarn's son, Tevin Hamilton, donated a kidney to Randall's mother. The two families were paired together after tests showed family members were not a match for each other. Doctors performed the surgery using robotics and said there were no apparent complications.

Dr. Enrico Benedetti, head of surgery, and Dr. Jose Oberholzer, chief of transplantation surgery, were interviewed about the swap procedure and the hospital's program to transplant obese kidney patients, who are frequently denied access to transplantation, using robotic surgery. They've found that obese patients who received robotic kidney transplants have fewer wound complications than patients who received traditional "open" transplant surgery. Patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 who have end-stage kidney disease are often denied transplantation, and patients with a BMI over 40 often die on dialysis without an opportunity for transplant. Obesity "markedly increases the risk of wound infection, which lowers graft and patient survival," said Dr. Jose Oberholzer.   Minimally invasive robotic transplantation may reduce health disparities for obese patients with end-stage kidney disease. Up to half of dialysis patients are obese, defined as having a body mass index greater than 30. Studies have shown that obese patients with chronic kidney failure wait longer for transplants and consequently have poorer outcomes than non-obese patients. However, obese transplant patients who don't have surgical site infections have similar kidney transplant success rates as non-obese patients.   UI Health surgeons have developed a new robotic technique that avoids any incision in the infection-prone lower abdomen and uses only a small incision above the belly-button.