Doctors in Maryland removed a kidney from a donor through the vagina in what they believe to be the first operation of its kind, the Baltimore Examiner reports. The procedure reduced the 48-year-old donor’s pain and recovery time compared with more traditional methods. “We are all about trying to reduce the disincentives to donation,” said one of the Johns Hopkins University doctors.
Surgeons made a small incision in the back of the donor’s vagina, then slid an inflatable bag inside to hold the cut open as they pulled out the kidney. The procedure has been used to take out problematic kidneys before, but not donor kidneys, which need to be intact. A typical operation would require a 5- to 6-inch abdominal cut. About 100,000 people are awaiting kidney transplants; doctors hope the new procedure will ease the donation process.