When it comes time for surgery, the donor and recipient are prepped in adjacent operating rooms. First, a gynecological oncologist removes the donor’s uterus through her abdomen. Normally, in a hysterectomy, the surgeon begins by cutting the blood supply to the organ. But because in this case he must maintain that supply to keep oxygen and nutrients flowing to the organ, he does this last. “This means there is much higher risk of accidentally nicking an artery and having to deal with blood loss,” says team surgeon E. Colin Koon, who is an expert in radical hysterectomies.
Koon must remove more tissue than he normally would; he takes more of the blood vessels than in a typical hysterectomy. “It’s a very big dissection,” he says. Also the head of Baylor’s robotic surgery, Koon is exploring the possibility of performing this procedure less invasively, extracting the organ through the **** rather than the abdomen. This would be less traumatic for the donor, who must currently stay in the hospital for up to six days after the surgery so staff can monitor her recovery.
Minutes - Removal - Team - Member - Uterus
Minutes after removal, a team member takes the uterus into the other operating room. There, the surgical plan follows a 3D map of the inside of the recipient’s abdomen. This has been created by the team’s radiologist and imaging specialist, using a combination of ultrasound, MRI, and CT angiography. A dye added to the blood “lights up” the arteries and veins, some no more than a millimeter in diameter, says team radiologist Greg de Prisco. Because blood vessels aren’t always in the same...