KENYA—Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital have performed the first-ever laparoscopic kidney transplant at a Kenyan public hospital, marking a historic moment for both the institution and its patients.

A team of medics led by Paul Njogu and Charles Waihenya, two of the country’s most known urologists, performed this three-hour, exceedingly delicate, minimally invasive operation.

Dickson Njorogeyson was the recipient of the procedure, while his cousin Dickson Ndekei Wanjiru served as the donor.

The physicians made many small incisions in the donor’s belly and extracted the kidney with surgical equipment and a long, thin tube with a camera at the end (laparoscope).

The laparoscopic procedure is  significant departure from traditional open kidney surgery that entails making small incisions, thereby reducing pain, scarring, and recovery time.

Traditionally, donor nephrectomy laparoscopic operations needed a healthy individual (the donor) to undergo a major operation in which the kidney was removed through a big incision in the side.

This standard procedure required massive incisions and, in some cases, rib removal, leaving patients with lasting scars with this so-called “open” technique accompanied with great pain and a lengthy recovery time for the donor.

This groundbreaking operation that utilizes contemporary cameras ensures greater precision and less blood loss, ushering in a new era in Kenya’s medical environment.

This novel method not only reduces postoperative discomfort but also shortens the hospital stay. Furthermore, it is more cost-effective in the long run than conventional dialysis, which has an influence on patients’ job and quality of life in general.

During the treatment, four ports are used to liberate the kidney, which is then extracted through a lower abdominal incision.

Speaking after the surgery, Dr Patrick Mbugua, Head of the Renal Unit at KNH, expressed his joy at the satisfactory outcome, noting that the institution has transplanted over 250 patients since 2010.

He underscored the team’s commitment to increasing the frequency of transplants, with the novel laparoscopic approach expected to play a critical part in this effort.

Njoroge and Ndekei both spoke about their experiences, emphasizing the laparoscopic method’s ease and speed of recovery. Despite this improvement, obstacles such as cost and donor availability remain, with Kenyan law now limiting organ donations to family members.

Dr. Benjamin Wambugu, a nephrologist, on his part, emphasized the need for recipients to take anti-rejection medicine to ensure their bodies accept the new kidney.

Dr. Evanson Kamuri, CEO of KNH, concluded by complimenting the team on their outstanding success while highlighting the hospital’s commitment to improving the operational efficiency of its kidney transplant program.

With Kenya’s medical community awaiting the introduction of a new law regulating organ harvesting from donors, the successful laparoscopic kidney transplant provides a ray of optimism amidst the current obstacles.

This groundbreaking effort foreshadows a brighter future for organ transplantation in Kenya and abroad, demonstrating human determination, medical creativity, and an unwavering spirit that continues to push the boundaries of what is possible.

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