On Dec. 14, 2016, transplant surgeons Alejandro Mejia, MD, FACS, and Richard Dickerman, MD, FACS, performed the first robotic auto-transplantation in North Texas using the da Vinci Surgical System.
The 42-year-old female patient suffers from loin pain hematuria syndrome, a rare condition that causes persistent or recurrent flank pain (discomfort in the upper abdomen or back and sides) and blood in the urine. While the cause is unknown, the years of pain caused this patient to be heavily medicated and unable to work.
A friend at a support group referred her to Dr. Dickerman since he had performed the friend’s kidney transplant. Dr. Mejia said the patient’s condition made her a good candidate for robotic auto-transplantation. He has been performing robotic kidney retrieval for three years, and Dr. Dickerman implants the organ through open surgery.
Robotic retrieval and implantation is incredibly rare, especially in the same patient.
“Only certain conditions benefit from auto-transplantation,” says Dr. Mejia, executive program director of organ transplantation at Methodist Dallas. “Both of the patient’s kidneys worked, we just needed to move one to the other site to alleviate the pain. It’s been very gratifying as a surgeon to see how this changed her life, and I was honored to be part of the team.”
In February 2015, Methodist Dallas was selected as a General Surgery Epicenter by Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci Surgical System.
The hospital was the first in the nation to be certified by The Joint Commission for pancreatic cancer and pancreatic surgery; and in 2016, added pancreatitis to that list of certifications.
Dr. Mejia has extensive experience in hepatobiliary and transplantation surgery. Dr. Dickerman began the kidney transplantation program at Methodist Dallas in 1981, and is considered one of the most prolific transplant surgeons in Dallas-Fort Worth.
“When we evaluated the patient, we knew she would be the perfect candidate for our first robotic auto-transplantation,” says Dr. Dickerman, surgical director for kidney and pancreas transplant, general surgery and vascular surgery at Methodist Dallas. “Even the next day, she was a new person and we are thrilled we could take her pain away with a minimally-invasive transplant procedure.”
The patient is now at home recovering and looking forward to driving and working again in the coming weeks.
“What Dr. Dickerman and Dr. Mejia did is truly remarkable transplanting the same patient robotically. No one is doing that kind of robotic surgeries and having exceptional outcomes,” says Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS, president of Methodist Dallas. “We are very proud of their work and dedication to compassionate, quality care.”