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First child operated on with UK’s only da Vinci robot dedicated to children

20 January 2014

Surgeons have performed the first surgical procedure using the UK’s only da Vinci robot dedicated to babies and children bought by the charity, the Children’s Hospital Trust Fund for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which sees 85,000 children through its doors every year.

Photo: Mr Munther Haddad (Consultant Paediatric Surgeon) with patient’s Mum Dr Lydia Drepaul next to the da Vinci surgical robot

Surgeons have performed the first surgical procedure using the UK’s only da Vinci robot dedicated to babies and children bought by the charity, the Children’s Hospital Trust Fund for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which sees 85,000 children through its doors every year.

The state-of-art surgical robot, which cost more than £1 million and was fundraised for as part of the charity’s Pluto Appeal was used for the first time by the charity’s chairman, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Munther Haddad.

Mr Haddad led the surgical team and performed the removal of a 13 year old boy’s gall bladder using the robotic surgical system.

The patient, Robert Drepaul, from Ealing, had suffered constant pain due to repeated infection due to gall stones.

The 13 year old had an emergency appendisectomy six years earlier, which meant that it was also necessary for the surgeons to remove adhesions before the gall bladder could be taken out.

The da Vinci robot's arms move in a way, which mimics the human wrist but with more precision, which made it easier in comparison to keyhole surgery for the surgeons to remove Robert’s gall bladder.

The da Vinci robot enabled Robert’s entire operation to be carried out with more intricacy and less damage to tissue, which meant it was less painful and that Robert recovered quicker and was left with less scarring.

Munther Haddad said afterwards: “When I checked on Robert 4 hours after surgery he was sitting up in bed, talking on the phone and listening to music.  He was hungry and was keen to eat.

For the first time in six years he can eat without pain. He was discharged within 48 hours of having had the operation and the day after the operation his mother informed me that he was jumping around his living room and didn’t need any pain killers.”

Robert Drepaul is the first of thousands of babies and children from all over South England who, thanks to The Children’s Hospital Trust Fund donating The da Vinci robot to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, will now benefit from less invasive surgery.

The Children’s Hospital Trust Fund is still running the Pluto Appeal as it is fundraising to buy additional equipment for the robot in order to increase the amount of operations, which can be performed.

Robert’s mother, Dr Lydia Drepaul, said: “Robert has been in a lot of pain for months now and we are very grateful to Mr Haddad and his team for all of their hard work. I am amazed at how quickly Robert is getting better and am pleased that Robert has been able to help with the future care of other children.”

Robert Drepaul, said: “I was a bit worried at first when they said a robot was going to do my operation, but Mr Haddad laughed and said he was still in charge.”

Mr Munther Haddad, Chair of The Children's Hospital Trust Fund and Senior Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said: “We are delighted to be bringing this cutting-edge technology to children in the South of England.  The benefits of having surgery performed using the da Vinci robot for our young patients is immense. Our vision is to expand our existing programme of minimally-invasive surgery in children. We are looking to establish a centre of excellence at Chelsea Children’s Hospital for minimally-invasive surgery, innovation and robotics which would provide world-class education, research and simulation training for paediatric surgeons globally. We are thrilled to have started this journey today with Robert being our first patient.”

Rebecca McLoughlin of The Children's Hospital Trust Fund said: “A baby or child who is operated on with a da Vinci robot will see a lifetime of benefits, which is why we tirelessly fundraised to purchase the da Vinci robot and why we are still fundraising to buy additional equipment so that more operations can be performed. We are extremely grateful to our supporters who have helped us make a difference to the lives of thousands of children.”

Tony Bell, Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted that we are able to provide suitable families with the opportunity to have state of the art robotic surgery, which is much less invasive. This is one of many investments that have been made as part of the Chelsea Children’s Hospital, one of the most modern facilities for delivering paediatric care in London. On behalf of the 85,000 children we see each year I’d like to thank the Children’s Hospital Trust Fund for their tireless fundraising work that has made this happen.”

Contact Information

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