India’s first robotic liver transplant successful

October 13th, 2011 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) In the first such surgery in India, doctors at a hospital near here have performed a robotic liver transplant to save the life of a four-year-old child. Doctors say it is only the third operation of its kind in the world.

The surgery was conducted last month at the Medanta Medicity hospital in the national capital’s Gurgaon suburb in Haryana, doctors said here Thursday.

The Da-Vinci robot was used by the doctors on Rahmatullah, 36, who donated 20 percent of his liver to his nephew Ziad, whose organ had turned cancerous and had to be removed.

“Robotic surgery is usually performed for kidney, heart and gynaecological operations. But it’s use in liver transplant not only increased the precision but also reduced surgery-related troubles,” said Medanta Liver Institute chairman A.S. Soin, who led the team of surgeons.

Ziad, who was living with his parents in Oman capital Muscat, was suffering from tyrosinemia, a rare genetic disorder due to which the liver is unable to digest proteins.

“Even when Ziad developed rickets, which is one of the symptoms of this disease, the doctors were not able to diagnose his condition,” said Neelam Mohan, Medanta’s director of pediatric gastroenterology.

Ziad developed rickets at age of two, but his liver condition was detected much later. Ziad’s father Mohd. Zakir Hussain, a pharmacist, and his mother Mehe Zabin, who are originally from Karnataka, were not able to afford the surgery in Muscat and decided to come to India.

By then, Ziad’s liver had turned cancerous and hence had to completely removed. However, his parents’ blood group differed from Ziad’s and so his uncle Rahmatullah came forward for the liver donation.

“The donor in a liver transplant undergoes the surgery only for saving someone’s life. A robotic surgery encouraged his uncle for the donation as it has greater precision and leaves a mere three to four inch scar,” Soin explained.

The operation cost Rs.15 lakh and this was raised through charity.

The cost of robotic surgery on the donor costs nearly Rs.75,000 to 80,000 more than a normal donor surgery. Doctors, however, say the cost will come down with time as more robotic surgeries are conducted.

“In another year or 18 months, the cost difference will come down to around Rs.25,000,” said Soin.

“It costs Rs.1 lakh just to start the robot. If three or four surgeries are conducted in a line, the cost will automatically come down,” he explained.

And for Ziad and his parents, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

“It is another life for Ziad,” a relieved Mehe Zabin said.

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