The 29-year-old from Springs also became the first woman to undergo a
procedure using the da Vinci robotic surgical system in South Africa.
I was nervous before I knew what was wrong with me. Now I’m not
nervous at all. I have a really, really good doctor and was quite surprised
when I found out my procedure would be a double first,” Gouws said, from her
hospital bed shortly before her operation.
It is amazing to know that medical technology has progressed so much.
I’m now very calm and comfortable about the procedure because I know Dr
Conradie will remove all of the tumour accurately,” added Gouws.
Her surgeon, urologist Dr Marius Conradie, said doing a partial
nephrectomy was an extremely intricate and exacting procedure.;There’s a number of blood vessels involved in the reconstruction of
the urinary tract. Any mistake and the patient could bleed to death on the
operating table,” he said.
Gouws’ tumour was diagnosed after an ovarian cyst burst about two
months ago while she was at work.
The cyst had gone undetected, as she had not
been seeing her gynaecologist regularly.
During an ultrasound examination by
her gynaecologist the golf ball-sized mass in her right kidney was incidentally
Up until now urologists have been using the highly sophisticated
technology, which was installed at Netcare Waterfall City and Netcare
Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital to operate on men, mainly for the surgical
removal of the prostate gland.
The system consists of a console where the surgeon sits, peering into a
screen, using foot pedals and hand controls to remotely operate the surgical
instruments attached to four robotic arms on a second console at the operating
Controlled by the surgeon at the console, the robotic arms do the
cutting, clamping and cauterising with far greater flexibility and precision
than is possible with human hands.
Unlike traditional surgery, da Vinci robotic-assisted procedures are
minimally invasive. The instruments are inserted through small incisions.
Read: Technology may hold the winning hand against cancer
“With this technology we can view the magnified organs, blood vessels
and surrounding tissue in 3D, so that the surgery can be performed much more
accurate,” said Dr Conradie.
During the surgery Dr Conradie used an ultrasound probe to determine
the extent of the tumour, to make sure they remove all of it. It was an ‘angry
red thing’, about 4cm long, on top of the kidney, which he successfully
“It operation went extremely well,” Dr Conradie said afterwards.
Gouws is expected to be in high care for a day and will thereafter be
transferred to a general ward for two days, after which she will be discharged
from hospital. She will be back at work in about one week to ten days.
Gouws does not have children, only a “loving boyfriend”. She said Dr
Conradie had told her having children should not be a problem, but that they
should first do the procedure and then see what the outlook was.
Dr Conradie said the success rate of da Vinci procedures was much
higher and recovery time much shorter compared to traditional surgery. The
procedure itself was also faster.
Read: What happens when robot surgery goes wrong
“I was devastated”
“A complete success,” said Dr Venter after he removed 53-year-old Kevin
Murphy’s right kidney, along with the fat and surrounding tissue in an
operation lasting nearly three hours.
He used da Vinci technology to perform the procedure, but was unable to
take the organ out through one of the small incisions made for the robotic
arms, and had to make a larger incision for this purpose.
About two weeks ago Murphy noticed urine in his blood. After a visit to
his doctor and some tests, the facilities manager was told he had a tumour in
Image: Kevin Murphy, 53 before his surgery
“I was devastated, I wasn’t in a happy space. I took it very hard at
first,” Murphy said from his bed before the procedure on Thursday on 5 October,.
He said it was difficult coming to terms with having cancer and the
realisation that he was going to lose part of his body.
“I am, however,
very confident in Dr Venter’s ability and the advanced technology he’s using,”
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