Entries in Operation (5)


Woman Dies While Donating Kidney to Relative

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Montefiore Hospital in New York voluntarily suspended its live donor organ transplant program after a woman who was trying to donate a kidney to a relative died during an operation, according to a hospital source.

The voluntary move by the hospital has drawn attention to the possible dangers of living organ donation, and some experts say the case may dissuade some who are contemplating becoming a live donor to follow through.

The incident, which is now under investigation by the state health department, is the first live donor operation death to occur at the hospital, according to hospital sources.

"The patient experienced a rare complication of this surgery," according to a spokeswoman for the hospital, who would not confirm details of the case.  "The doctors recognized the problem and took extensive steps to save the patient's life."

More than 900 people nationwide have participated as living donors since January 2012, according to data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.  Kidney and liver are among the most common organs donated by a living person.

"[Live organ donation] is incredibly important because there are not enough cadaver organs to go around," said Dr. Jonathon Bromberg, chief of the division of transplantation at the University of Maryland.  "Live organ donations allow us to save more lives."

Bromberg said however rare a fatal complication may be, the number of willing donors plummet when people hear about cases where a transplant goes wrong.

"We often do see a decrease in people willing to be a living or deceased donor," he said.  "We do have very direct conversations with those who are considering being a donor about the risks."

Live organ donations are among the most highly regulated procedures, not just by the hospitals but federal agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to Dr. Alan Koffron, chairman of surgery and director of the transplant program at William Beaumont hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

"It's so well controlled and so well regulated that it's typical that when something goes wrong the center shuts down to find what's wrong," said Koffron.  "We're trying to be good stewards of this procedure."  

Organs from live donors are more likely to function sooner in the recipient's body and be of better quality than an organ from a deceased donor since the live donor organ has only been out of the body for a short time.  Living donor and recipient surgeries are typically done on the same day to help preserve the organ.

Evidence also suggests that recipients of live donor organs live longer and have a better quality of life.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hospital to Live Tweet Brain Surgery

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- In February, surgeons at Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston live tweeted during heart surgery. And Wednesday, the hospital is moving on up — to the brain.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. ET, Dr. Dong Kim, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, will remove a brain tumor from a 21-year-old patient and broadcast it via Twitter and YouTube.

“What I do tomorrow can be seen anywhere. We’re using a lot of technology, but I think the thing that helps with this is that we are using an operating microscope and there’s a natural recording mechanism that can be tweeted,” Dr. Dong Kim told ABC News.

While there will be a lot of medical technology in the operating room, including the video feed from the microscope, Memorial Hermann has also outfitted the OR for instant social media sharing.

A colleague of Kim’s will tweet live from the OR on a laptop, a video camera will capture overview shots of the surgery, and a still photographer will be taking digital photos. All the material, including pictures, video, and text updates will be broadcast to Twitter, YouTube, TwitPic, CoverItLive, and Pinterest.

But the purpose isn’t just to show off what technology can do these days, it’s to teach students and help patients, Dr. Kim said.

“The main reason I wanted to do this was for the educational possibilities. I spend a lot of my time with patients on what to expect and what the steps are,” Kim said. “A lot of anxious patients want to know exactly what happens. With this they will be able to see what happens.”

The patient being operated on Wednesday has a benign avernous angioma tumor on the right side of her brain; Dr. Kim hopes that the removal will prevent seizures.

You can follow @houstonhospital and #mhbrain on Twitter tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctor Live-Tweeting Coronary Bypass Surgery

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Doctors tweeting throughout surgery and providing pictures and video is not new, but tweeting during open-heart surgery? That’s happening for the first time Tuesday.

Surgeons at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital in Houston are live tweeting a coronary bypass, complete with almost instantaneous YouTube videos and pictures of a beating heart.

Some of the pictures and video are already rolling into the hospital’s Twitter feed, @houstonhospital, but before clicking over, remember that the content is graphic, and includes images of the heart itself.

Dr. Michael Macis is conducting the two-hour bypass, wearing a helmet cam that snaps the photos and video, and sends them to a computer. Another camera in the operating room is also capturing images.

The patient’s name has not been released, but according to the Houston Chronicle, he is a 57-year-old male.

The surgery coincides with Heart Month. Memorial Hermann has arranged for a doctor on its staff to answer questions from the public through CoverItLive, which is embedded here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protein-Free Diet May Make Surgery Less Risky

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Doctors usually tell their patients not to eat or drink the night before surgery.  But there’s new evidence that food consumed weeks before an operation could affect how the body responds to the stress of surgery.

A new study found that mice fed a protein-free diet seemed to be protected from complications after surgery.  The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could give scientists new insight into how to prevent common complications from surgery -- such as heart attacks and strokes -- in humans.

Harvard researchers studied two groups of mice, feeding one group a protein-free diet for up to two weeks before surgery, and letting the other group eat normally.  The researchers then operated on the mice, using techniques that put their kidneys and livers under added stress.

About 40 percent of the mice who ate normally died after the surgery; all of the mice on the protein-free diet survived.

Previous studies in animals have shown that restricting the diet is one way to help the body cope with stress and stay healthy.  Study author James Mitchell, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said he and his team were hoping to find out just which elements of the diet can help or hinder the body’s response to stress.

“Surgery, by its nature, is traumatic to the body,” Mitchell told ABC News.  “With changes to the diet, we’re getting the body ready for an acute stress like surgery.  If we can do that, the complications might be less severe or there might be fewer complications.”

Although the study tested only mice, the trauma their bodies experienced after the surgery is similar to what humans can experience, said Dr. Stavros Memtsoudis, an anesthesiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“But the human body is very complex, more complex than mice.  How one change affects all other organs is very unknown,” Memtsoudis said.  “Nevertheless, this opens up a whole new concept that should be investigated.  Nutrition is a very nuanced intervention before surgery that should be paid attention to.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctor Claims He Can Change Your Eye Color

JupiterImages/Comstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Are you a brown-eyed girl or guy who has always wanted to go blue? Forget the contacts. One doctor says he can make the color change permanent.

Dr. Gregg Homer at Stroma Medical in California announced on KTLA-TV that he had come up with a laser procedure that removes the brown pigment, known as melanin, in the iris. Once removed, the blue color underneath is revealed, giving the person blue eyes. Homer said the procedure takes about 20 seconds.

“We use a laser that’s tuned to a specific frequency to remove the pigment from the surface of the iris,” he told KTLA.

The change is irreversible because, once removed, the melanin cannot grow back.

Homer says he’s been working on the science for 10 years. He told the news channel that he and his team had 15 ranges of “sophisticated” tests to make sure there is no eye tissue damage during or after the procedure.

Homer predicted the procedure would be on the market outside the U.S. in 18 months and available here in three years.

Lasering the iris to destroy the brown pigment to turn it blue is “probably risky,” Dr. Robert Cykiert, associate professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News.

“When you burn the brown pigment away with a laser, the debris that is created in the front of the eye — think of it as ashes resulting from burning anything — is likely to clog up the microscopic channels in the front of the eye, known as trabecular meshwork,” said Cykiert. “[It] is very likely to cause a high pressure in the eye, known as glaucoma.”

In some patients, this high pressure might be temporary, he said, but in others, it could be permanent. Glaucoma is a disease that can cause serious permanent loss of vision.

Cykiert also said that burning large amounts of brown pigment is likely to cause inflammation and potential damage to the cornea. The procedure could also bring on cataracts, depending on the severity of the inflammation.

Dr. Ivan Schwab, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine and clinical correspondent at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, also has his doubts. He said several long-term studies should get under way before Homer offers the procedure to the public.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio