Odeski Junor knew her fair share about hospital robots before one helped her get a new kidney.
As a nurse anesthetist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Junor had seen the advantages robotics offered surgeons during general surgery. But it turned out, she needed one.
Junor suffered from a hereditary kidney disease. She watched her brother, afflicted with the same condition, go through a painful kidney transplant and grueling recovery.
But just as her life depended on a new kidney, UR moved forward with the region's first robotic kidney transplant program. She chose to take part.
"I knew what my brother's recovery time was, what to expect in the way of pain," Junor said. "I wasn't intimidated by the size of (the robot). I just didn't know about the recovery of it."
The UR Medicine Transplant team, with the help of an anonymous donor, turned to the Da Vinci Robotic Surgery System for Junor's transplant in May.
Surgical team leader Dr. Randeep Kashyap laughs when he thinks of how his team of doctors has had to convince prospective patients that the surgeon still completes the procedure, with the assistance of the robot.
"In their mind, it's a big arm, a big head," Kashyap said with a smile. "It is the technology that is delivered through the machine."
In the operating room, the Da Vinci appears more like a private cubicle you'd find in a library, with a large hooded viewing station where the surgeon stands and operates the robot over the patient.
Cutting edge optics used in the robotic procedure allows surgeons to reduce the incision by one-third of what a human can perform to just five centimeters, Kashyap said.
Researchers that have provided the procedure in three other medical centers across the country report the technology reduces the risk of infection significantly.
An infection resulting from surgery can threaten a patient’s life and cause exponential pain during the transplant recovery.
"I had no nausea, and the pain was decreased significantly because of the precision of the surgery," Junor said.
While a traditional kidney transplant can keep someone in the hospital longer for recovery, Junor left URMC in three days. She was on her feet the day after the surgery.
Now, she wakes up fully rested from her shifts at the hospital and spends extra quality time helping friends.
"I wasn't able to do that before, so that's a reward in itself," Junor said.
The university completed its second robotic kidney transplant in August.
“We are excited to be the first in the Northeast to offer this innovative robotic-assisted technique, with benefits that further improve care for our patients in Upstate New York, both living donors and now recipients,” Kashyap said.