Md. surgeons remove donated kidney through vagina

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ 
Associated Press Writer

AP Photo/Rob Carr



BALTIMORE (AP) -- Surgeons removed a woman's kidney through her vagina so she could give it to her ailing niece, an unusual operation they hope will encourage others to donate because it reduces pain, scarring and recovery time. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said donor Kimberly Johnson, 48, and her niece, Jennifer Gilbert, 23, were both doing well following operations Thursday.

"It was easier than childbirth," said Johnson, who has three children.

Transvaginal kidney removals have been done before to remove cancerous or nonfunctioning kidneys, and other diseased organs have also been removed through mouths and other orifices. Many donated kidneys are removed laparoscopically, through small keyhole incisions.

But hospital officials think this may be the first time a donor kidney was removed through the vagina.

The operation left three pea-size scars on the Lexington Park woman's abdomen, one hidden in her navel. Surgeons hope the procedure will lead more women to become donors, said Dr. Robert Montgomery, chief of the transplant division at Johns Hopkins, who led the team that performed the surgery.

Johnson said the operation was less painful than gall bladder surgery and she is recovering more quickly than Gilbert's father, who gave his daughter a kidney 12 years ago.

Gilbert, of Baltimore, needed the first transplant because repeated infections had destroyed the kidneys she was born with. She needed the second after she began suffering chronic rejection.

Johnson, an assistant sales manager for a St. Mary's County newspaper, said she was able to get out of bed Thursday night, the same day the kidney was removed.

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