A Maryland woman just donated a kidney for her niece. Surgeons removed the Kim Johnson’s kidney through her vagina. Both Johnson and niece Jennifer Gilbert, 23, are doing well since their operations on Thursday.
Kim Johnson, 48, said that the surgery was easier than childbirth. While kidneys have been removed through the vagina in the past those surgeries were due to cancerous or nonfunctional kidneys. Diseased kidneys have also been removed through the mouth and other orifices. Generally laparoscopical surgery is used to remove kidneys to be used for donation.
Inside of the typical keyhole incision Johnson has three pea size scars on her abdomen. One of those was hidden within her navel. Doctors are hoping that this means of removal will help encourage other women to donate.
When Gilbert was 13 her father donated a kidney. Johnson says that she is recovering more quickly than Mr. Gilbert did. She has had bladder surgery and said that this operation has been less painful.
Gilbert required the first transplant after infections destroyed her kidneys. The second kidney was needed after she began to reject the first one.
Vaginal removal has been used about 300 times for gall bladder and appendix removal. Some in the medical field fear that this type of removal could be a risk for other problems such as leaking stomach acid.
The Associated Press reports:
“There is the risk of infection having the kidney passing through a contaminated area and then going to another patient who is immunocompromised,” Dr. Jihad Kaouk, a urologist and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery said. “That is the concern we have and we would like to monitor the outcome in that regard.”