Surgeons At Northwestern Hospital Share Insights On Awake Kidney Transplant

Northwestern Medicine performed its first awake kidney transplant with next-day discharge, moving the procedure from a major operation to an overnight stay. Dr. Nadig and Dr. Garcia Tomas collaborated to use spinal anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, reducing risks and allowing the patient, John, to be awake during surgery. John’s donor, Pat, expressed the life-changing experience and the successful recovery. The innovative approach challenges the status quo of transplantation and opens up possibilities for more patients in need of life-saving organ transplants.

Northwestern Medicine recently made history by performing the first awake kidney transplant with next-day discharge on a patient named John. This innovative approach aims to make kidney transplantation more efficient and easier for patients by moving it from a major operation to an overnight procedure. Dr. Nadig spearheaded this initiative, working collaboratively with anesthesia colleagues like Dr. Garcia Tomas to use spinal anesthesia and sedation instead of general anesthesia, minimizing risks and enhancing patient experience.

John’s journey to the awake kidney transplant started over a decade ago when he was diagnosed with kidney issues at the age of 16. After his kidney function declined, he needed a transplant and found a willing donor in his longtime friend, Pat Wise. Pat underwent surgery to donate his kidney to John, who embraced the opportunity to be part of the medical breakthrough at Northwestern Medicine. The procedure, which took less than two hours, allowed John to leave the hospital within 24 hours, a significant improvement compared to the usual 2-3 days stay.

This groundbreaking awake kidney transplant procedure signifies a shift in traditional transplantation methods, challenging the status quo and aiming to improve patient outcomes. By utilizing spinal anesthesia, minimizing opioid use, and enabling next-day discharges, Northwestern Medicine is paving the way for a new era in kidney transplantation. John’s successful surgery and quick recovery exemplify the potential benefits and advancements that this innovative approach can offer to transplant recipients in the future.


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