Northwestern surgeons perform first kidney transplant on a fully awake patient

Northwestern surgeons perform first kidney transplant on a fully awake patient

⁠Transplant surgeons at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois have performed what is thought to be the first awake kidney transplant in the US. The patient, 28-year-old John Nicholas of Chicago, was able to watch in real time as surgeons removed his old kidney and inserted a new one.

Instead of administering general anaesthesia, which is the default for such an operation, doctors gave a spinal anaesthesia, similar to that used during Caesarean sections. The transplant took less than 2 hours.

Nicholas was completely aware and awake during his surgery, but experienced “no sensation whatsoever” and was able to talk with the surgeons about the different milestones they reached during the procedure.

After a successful operation on 24 May, he was discharged the next day, walking out of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The normal stay there for kidney transplant patients is two to three days.

This new option may increase access to transplantation for people who are at high risk of complications from general anaesthesia, while also decreasing time spent in hospital. ⁠

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