Man Receives Kidney Transplant While Fully Awake, Goes Home The Very Next Day

June 27, 2024

Today's good news story comes from Chicago, IL.

Surgeons at Northwestern Medicine achieved a medical milestone by performing a kidney transplant on John Nicholas of Chicago while he remained awake throughout the entire procedure. Remarkably, John was able to go home the next day.

kidney transplant awake
Northwestern Medicine / @NorthwesternMed

Instead of using general anesthesia, doctors administered a spinal anesthesia shot—similar to what is used for a Cesarean section—according to a press release from the hospital.

"This is the first case at Northwestern Medicine where a patient was awake during an entire kidney transplant procedure and went home the next day, basically making this an outpatient procedure," said Dr. Satish Nadig, transplant surgeon and director of the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Transplant Center. He described the experience inside the operating room as incredible, highlighting the unique opportunity to show a patient their new kidney before placing it inside the body.

John Nicholas shared his perspective on this groundbreaking procedure, expressing his amazement at being aware of the magnitude of what was happening in real time. "It was a pretty cool experience to know what was happening in real time and be aware of the magnitude of what they were doing," Nicholas said in a news release, adding that he felt "no sensation whatsoever." Reflecting on the moment he saw the organ in his doctor's hand, he described it as "extremely powerful."

During a news conference on Monday, Nicholas spoke about the life-changing nature of the experience and noted that he needed "zero opioid narcotic pain medication," which Dr. Nadig pointed out as a significant benefit. This type of "awake transplant" could reduce surgical risks and shorten the patient's hospital stay, providing substantial advantages over traditional methods.

Watch the news video below.

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