June 25, 2024

Kidney transplant performed on awake patient

Editor's Note

In a first for Northwestern Medicine, surgeons performed a kidney transplant on an awake patient, CBS News reported June 24.

John Nicholas, 28, of Chicago, experienced no pain during the May 24 procedure, in which he received an organ from a childhood friend. He was discharged the next day, significantly earlier than the typical 2- to 3-day hospitalization. Rather than general anesthesia, doctors used a single spinal anesthesia shot, similar to those used in cesarean sections.

Nicholas required no opioid pain medication, and the procedure was almost like an outpatient treatment, CBS reports. In addition to shorter hospital stays, benefits of this approach include reduced risks associated with general anesthesia and increased accessibility for high-risk patients. The successful procedure has inspired Northwestern Medicine to establish the AWAKE Program (Accelerated Surgery Without General Anesthesia in Kidney Transplantation) for similar operations in the future.  

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