Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
THE CORNWALL Regional Hospital and Jamaica continue to blaze a trail in medical accomplishment when consultant urologist at the facility Dr Roy McGregor successfully pioneered the second in a series of laparoscopic prostatectomies.
This was done at the facility recently under the watchful eyes of noted United Kingdom expert and pioneer in laparoscopic surgery Dr Christopher Eden.
Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery, or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5-1.5 cm) as opposed to the larger incisions needed in open surgery.
Five men, all suffering from cancer of the prostate, were beneficiaries of the surgery, each lasting for six hours.
Dr Eden explained to The Gleaner that the relationship with the Cornwall Regional Hospital and Dr McGregor was forged when both men met at a medical conference some years ago in Australia, and Dr McGregor (who was completing a fellowship) expressed plans to return to Jamaica and to begin laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
"So I agreed to help out, because at the end of the day, it is not all about the surgeons, but the patients you want to help. You want them to have the best possible treatment. Open surgery remains an option, but it is not the best treatment. Keyhole surgery gives you the advantage of completely replicating an open operation with much less bleeding, more accuracy and faster recovery time."
Dr Eden, who first came to Jamaica 11 months ago to lead Dr McGregor through his first set of laparoscopic surgeries, marvelled this time at the progress which has been made in that time frame by his protégé and his team of nurses and other personnel.
"I first came here 11 months ago. At that stage, there were a number of teething problems as there are with any new programme; I certainly have had my fair share, the difference really has been remarkable between 11 months ago and now. The team has been consolidated and they all play a really important part ... ."
Dr McGregor, for his part, said he was grateful to have someone of Dr Eden's calibre sharing his expert knowledge (he has done more than 2,000 operations) with him.
"To have Chris here mentoring me is a great help. The team is fantastic. We have a set of nurses who are second to none and, when you have them supporting you and everyone is rooting for the patient, that makes all the difference. I am nothing without the team, so we are all going through it together."
"He says, while it has been stressful, it has also been rewarding. The biggest reward is when you see the patient and they come up to me and say 'Doc, a day don't go by that I don't call your name' - you get that warm, fuzzy feeling. So we feel that we are very privileged to be in a position to help people and get paid for it."
The medical doctor explained that: "Previously, the operations were done making an incision from the navel down to the pubic bone, and the problem with that is that even the expert would report blood loss of 880 mils, whereas, with the keyhole surgery, our average blood loss has been 130 millilitres. As we get better, that will come down. The open procedure is very painful and the recovery time is generally three months. In this case, full recovery time is three weeks."
Two of the men who underwent the procedure spoke with The Gleaner about their experience.
wracked with pain
Sixty-two-year-old Paul Cunningham said he felt good, noting that, prior to the operation, his body was constantly wracked with pain and it was painful to urinate. His belly was swollen and at one point, he said, he felt like he was dying.
"I feel good, nurse told me no complications, it was smooth going. They took me to my room. I came off the stretcher without any help from the porter. The morning, the nurse came around to give me my breakfast and I was able to stand without feeling dizzy or was trembling. The nurse was amazed that I had come from surgery and was so strong. Dr McGregor has done a beautiful job for me. I love him, thumbs up for him. He is very nice."
Sixty-nine-year-old Audley Brown of Lucea, Hanover, who has for three years been experiencing difficulty when urinating, was all smiles as he shared how wonderful it was to be up and about so quickly after surgery.
He had his surgery on a Wednesday and was up and about on Friday.
"I am so glad for Dr McGregor to have his team around me ... . They all want to see me healed and pass my urine, as a man should. They treat me so good, it was lovely. I went through a hernia operation before and it was a big cut, this one, you can hardly see it. I am a brand-new man."