Australian has kidney transplant via robot named Divinci . . . ‘Kidney Priest’ spreading word about organ donation

Tim Sawley has become the first Australian in history to undergo a kidney transplant via robotic surgery. The transplant occurred on Wednesday with his wife, Talitha, his donor. . . . “The state of the art surgical robot, called Divinci, is guided by surgeons,” writes Mike Dalton of, “but allows for the surgeon’s tools to undertake work not humanly possible, including being able to rotate 360 degrees in minute crevasses within the maze of the body’s viscera.” . . . Dalton’s story is right here.

Four years ago, at the age of 15, Kathleen Roberts of Kamloops underwent a kidney transplant, receiving a new kidney from her father. Prior to that day, she was taking 78 pills a day and experiencing kidney failure. She’s 19 now and attending UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna as she works towards a Bachelor of Science in nursing. . . . She also is promoting organ donation. “I know so many people who are on the wait list or have passed away on the wait list,” Roberts told Todd Sullivan of Kamloops This Week. “And, in the future, it’s very possible I’ll have to go on the wait list. It’s so life-altering to get that organ. It just takes a few seconds. Why not save someone’s life?” . . . Sullivan’s story is right here.

Some U.S.-based numbers from a story by Jen Christensen of CNN: There are more than 37 million Americans with kidney disease, but the best guess is that 96 per cent of those people aren’t aware that they have it. . . . Every month, about 8,000 Americans die awaiting an organ transplant. . . . More than 95,000 Americans are on the waiting list in the hopes of getting a new kidney. That list grows by about 3,000 every month. . . . About 100,000 Americans start dialysis each year. . . . One in five donated kidneys end up in the trash. . . . All of these numbers are why the U.S. is moving to change a system that some experts feel is broken. . . . Christensen’s complete story is right here.

Have you heard about the ‘Kidney Priest?’ . . . In 2009, Reverend Father Davis Chiramel, who is from the Indian state of Kerala, donated a kidney to Gopinathan Chakkamadathil. . . . “In the decade since,” writes Yasmin Hingun of the South China Morning Post, “Chiramel has toured India, Europe, America and the Middle East to champion organ donation, whether from living or dead donors.” . . . Chiramel told Hingun: “As a priest, I preach about Jesus sacrificing himself for others, but I have to practice it, too. Ten years ago when Gopinathan could not find a kidney donor, I made the choice to donate my kidney. No thinking about it. I just did it.” . . . Interestingly, surgeons in Hong Kong completed 60 kidney transplants in 2018, but only 30 in 2019. What happened? There aren’t enough donors to meet the demand. . . . Hingun’s complete story is right here.

More hepatitis C-infected kidneys being transplanted. . . . Disease able to be treated following surgery. . . . Kidney Walk set for Kamloops on Sept. 22


A study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reports that American transplant centres are using three times more hepatitis C-infected kidneys for transplant rather than dispose of them.

There has long been a fear that a transplant receiving a kidney with hepatitis C would become ill. According to this report, medical advancements in treating hepatitis C mean that those recipients won’t become ill.

Jen Christensen of CNN writes:

“Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious damage. Prior to 2018, most of the infected organs went to patients who already had hepatitis C. Since 2018, most of these infected kidneys, about 75 per cent, went to patients who did not have the virus.

“Patients who received infected kidneys had nearly the same function as those who received uninfected kidneys, the study said.”

Dr. Vishnu Potluri, the study’s lead author and a nephrology fellow at the U of Pennsylvania, told Christensen:

“The key thing about hepatitis C is that millions of Americans have this infection and most don’t know that they have it, it’s mild and takes many years for it to progress.”

Christensen continued: “Until a few years ago, there weren’t really good options to treat hepatitis C. Now, there are drugs with high cure rates, Potluri said. The transplant community realized that you could transplant a kidney from someone with hepatitis C and start treating them right away, Potluri said, and the early trials found the infection could be cured after the transplant.”

Hopefully, this study will signal a change for the system in the U.S., where nearly 40 per cent of hepatitis C-infected kidneys donated between January 2018 and March 2019 were discarded.

Christensen’s story is right here.


Don’t forget that Kamloops’ 2019 Kidney Walk is set for Sunday, Sept. 22, at McDonald Park. You are able to register starting at 10 a.m., with the walk to begin at 11.

The Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation.

A few numbers for you: Kidney Walkers in B.C. and Yukon have walked 26 million kilometres over the past 12 years. That is more than 67 return trips to the moon. . . . They have raised more than $2.5 million in support of kidney patients. . . . The Kidney Walk helps the Kidney Foundation raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon. . . .

As of mid-August, in the region served by Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, there were 1,378 patients with chronic kidney disease being monitored by nephrologists. Of those, 140 had undergone transplants, and 114 were on dialysis. . . . As of Aug. 27, there were 68 people in our area on the pre-transplant list. . . . In 2018, there were 339 kidney transplants performed in B.C., a one-year record.

My wife, Dorothy, will be celebrating the sixth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk. In her six walks, she has raised more than $15,000. If you would like to support her, you may do so right here.