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Groundbreaking Procedure Aids Patient Suffering from End-Stage Renal Failure

Image: Patient Dean Barnes and Manoj Maloo, MD.

"It got so bad that I couldn’t carry a one-gallon can of paint halfway up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath." That was the reality for 49-year-old house painter Dean Barnes earlier this summer.

But the problem wasn't with his heart, or with his lungs. Barnes was suffering from end-stage renal failure and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). With PKD, cysts develop inside the kidneys and, in Barnes' case, the cysts were so numerous and large that both his kidneys grew to be more than 11 times their normal weight and more than three times their normal length. In other words, instead of each kidney approximating the size and weight of an iPhone, each was more like an average household steam iron.

Barnes knew he needed to have his over-sized kidneys removed and have a kidney transplant. After not being satisfied with the care he was receiving from another area physician, Barnes called Temple and ended up in the office of transplant surgeon Manoj Maloo, MD.

"Originally, our plan was to remove Dean's kidneys and perform the transplant at the same time, but when his potential living donors were not compatible, we put him on the transplant wait list," recalled Dr. Maloo.

Several months later, breathing became so tough that Barnes could no longer work. He needed to have his kidneys removed, but he didn't want to have standard open surgery — which meant a large incision and also meant he could be out of work for more than three months. Consequently, Dr. Maloo contacted his colleague Daniel Eun, MD, Vice Chief of Robotic Surgery, to discuss the possibility of working together to effect a surgical solution that would respond to the patient's concerns

"We agreed that we would try to remove these polycystic kidneys robotically — which would offer Dean a much faster recovery," said Dr. Maloo.

The surgical duo performed their groundbreaking procedure in early July. "With the kidneys being so large, we weren't sure if we would have enough room to move around with the robot," recalled Dr. Eun. "But Dr. Maloo and I were able to work well together and remove both of the kidneys."

Barnes got the good news soon after he awoke from surgery.

"When the nurse told me that my doctors got both kidneys robotically, that made me so happy," he said. Much later, while looking at photos of the over-sized kidneys that had been removed, Dean exclaimed: "I can't believe that they were actually inside me and that they came out of that little four-inch incision!"

For now, Barnes remains on dialysis as he awaits a kidney transplant. He reports that he is feeling great, his breathing has improved dramatically, and he was able to return to work less than six weeks after the surgery – all thanks to the collaborative innovation and expertise of his Temple surgical team!

Learn more about kidney disease and kidney transplantation.

Date Published: Friday, November 15, 2013