Minor incision equals major advance


For Immediate Release

August 28, 2013


LHSC surgeons first in Canada to use single incision for living donor kidney transplant


LONDON, Ontario – Surgeons at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have made Canadian history by performing the first living-donor kidney removal for transplant purposes, using a single incision point.


The robotic assisted single-site nephrectomy was performed recently by LHSC surgeons Dr. Patrick Luke and Dr. Alp Sener on kidney donor Kelley Kunkel of Walkerton, ON. The surgeons performed the procedure using the da Vinci robotic surgical system which allowed them to carefully extract the healthy kidney.


Kelley underwent the procedure in order to provide her husband Steve, with a new lease on life. A type 1 diabetic for over 30 years, Steve was in kidney failure and faced a lifetime of dialysis without the transplant.


Deemed a ‘perfect match’, Kelley did not hesitate to share this gift of life with her husband, however, she was happy when she learned that she would be the first person in the country to have her kidney removed through a small (4-6 cm) incision in her navel. “Dr. Sener said the recovery time would be shorter with this method, and he was right. I was out of the hospital in three days, and had a fully healed incision within four weeks. You can't even tell I had surgery now.”


“We are very fortunate at LHSC to have state-of-the-art da Vinci robotic systems which allow us to take minimally invasive surgery to the next level,” said Dr. Sener. “By using robotic assisted Lapro-Endoscopic Single Site Surgery (LESS) on living kidney donors, we are able to minimize risk, shorten recovery times, and return the donor back to their normal day-to-day activities sooner.”


This is an important development in living donor transplant surgery, as traditional open stomach organ retrieval, and even the minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery involving three to four incisions, require a longer time to heal and involve more risk to the donor. “Living donors are selflessly offering a part of themselves to another human, with full knowledge that their lives will also be impacted by this gift,” said Dr. Patrick Luke, co-director of LHSC’s multi-organ transplant program. “If we can utilize technology and medical innovation to help reduce that impact, perhaps more individuals will consider living-donor kidney donation in the future.”


“LHSC has always been on the leading edge of medical innovation, and this first single incision nephrectomy is further evidence of that,” said Bonnie Adamson, President and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre. “When we invested in the da Vinci robotic surgical system, we knew that it would allow our highly skilled physicians the opportunity to continue to improve patient care by minimizing the impact of surgery. I am thrilled to hear of the positive experience Mrs. Kunkel had, and I congratulate Dr. Luke and Dr. Sener on this tremendous achievement – the latest in a long legacy of transplantation innovation at LHSC.”


Note to media: Interviews are available with Steve and Kelley Kunkel, Dr. Alp Sener and Dr. Patrick Luke from 2-4pm at University Hospital. Please contact Kathy Leblanc to book your interview spot.


About London Health Sciences Centre

London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 138 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca 



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For media inquiries contact:                                                               

Kathy Leblanc

Corporate Communications and Public Relations

London Health Sciences Centre

519-685-8500, ext. 74772



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