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UPMC Transplant Services Performs First Robotic Nephrectomy in Central Pennsylvania

February 16, 2024

On Feb. 6, UPMC transplant surgeons Danielle Ladie, MD, and Harold Yang, MD, performed a robotic nephrectomy on a living donor using the multiport robotic surgery system, da Vinci Xi® by Intuitive. The UPMC Transplant program in Central Pa. is the first program in central Pennsylvania to use this robotic system. The donor was a 37-year-old man from Harrisburg and the recipient was a 62-year-old woman from Harrisburg.

Traditionally, living donor nephrectomies have been performed using either a laparoscopic technique or open surgery. The da Vinci Xi robotic system allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive living donor surgical procedures with increased precision, less tissue damage and better visualization, providing easier access to areas that are hard to reach.

“Donating an organ is a noble, life-changing decision, and every donor deserves to return to their normal routine as quickly as possible,” said Ladie. “Launching our robotic nephrectomy program demonstrates our commitment to innovation and to our mission to improve the quality of care received by the people we serve in our communities.”

The surgeon controls the robotic arm from a console to remove the donor kidney through small incisions, leading to quicker recovery and less pain and scarring. The benefits of robotic surgery have been extensively researched, and they include a reduction in blood loss, less postoperative discomfort, and a quicker recovery. Robotic surgery enables smaller incisions in the lower abdomen, which also decreases the risk of hernia and infection.

More than 90,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for a kidney transplant. A living donor nephrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a healthy kidney from one person for transplant into someone else whose kidneys no longer function properly.

Living donation can be considered for a family member, friend, co-worker or even a stranger. Organ donation is a personal decision and should be considered only after being fully informed of the process.

The transplant group at UPMC in Central Pa. is a specially trained multi-disciplinary team working together to provide transplant patients and living donors with the best possible care. The physicians, nurses and staff are experts in the latest transplantation techniques, anti-rejection (immunosuppressant) drugs, post-transplant care and the management of related health conditions of patients with kidney disease.

Moving forward, UPMC Transplant Services in Central Pa. will perform nephrectomy procedures using robotic and laparoscopic techniques as per patient suitability.

For more information on organ transplant services in central Pennsylvania, visit