The Henry Ford researchers and their counterparts in Gurgaon, India, reasoned that since minimally invasive robotic surgery has proven to be a great benefit to healthy kidney donors, it might also be a boon to the ill and weakened transplant recipients who are at greater risk of complications. So they decided to chill both the donor kidney and the transplant site with sterile ice slush in hopes of increasing the amount of time in which they could safely learn and perfect the robot-assisted surgery. Surgeons filled the kidney cavity with ice slush through a specially designed port in the patient's abdomen before transplanting the donor kidney, which was also chilled with ice slurry held in place by gauze wrapping. Blood vessels were attached to the transplanted kidney using suturing techniques refined in other types of minimally invasive procedures. Immediately after transplant, all of the grafted kidneys functioned normally and patient levels of creatinine -- used to measure kidney function -- were well within normal range. None of the patients developed blood or urine leaks, infections or other complications from their surgical wounds. None required dialysis after surgery.
Further studies will be needed before robotic kidney transplant is widely accepted as a "reasonable" alternative to conventional transplantation.