Tourist first in the city to get new kidney procedure


By Lori Haught

New York Downtown Hospital is believed to be the first in the city to perform a new surgical procedure to repair a kidney.

“It went very well,” said Dr. Herrick Wun, the vascular surgeon who performed the surgery Tuesday. He said an endovascular repair is most commonly used for aneurysms in the aorta, the main artery leading from the heart. An aneurysm of the kidney is so rare that the technique is hardly ever used in this type of case, Wun said in a telephone interview.

He did not know for sure if it was the first case in New York City, but said other surgeons and doctors have been telling him that. He said it was definitely a first for Downtown Hospital.

In simple terms, the team used a minimally invasive procedure to put a stint around an enlarged artery leading to the kidney.

Rex Miller, 51, the pioneer patient, was feeling well on Wed. Dec. 6. as he recuperated. Miller, who lives in Hawaii and was visiting family on Maiden Lane, had been suffering from back and abdominal pain for the duration of his trip to New York and slightly before. He originally thought it was the stomach flu.

When the pain became unbearable a few weeks ago he took a short cab ride to Downtown Hospital’s emergency room, where doctors originally suspected an infection caused by leptospira, a waterborne bacteria which thrives in warm climates such as Hawaii. Doctors insisted that Miller have a CAT scan, however, and the abnormality was detected in the kidney.

While he didn’t find out it would be the first procedure of that type for the hospital until after it was done, Miller said it would not have deterred him from having the surgery.

“I think that I would rather go with the non-invasive procedure than having a 12-inch stitch down my stomach,” he said in a telephone interview. He also said that since it had been proven to work in other areas of the vascular system, he would not have been worried. “It’s not the first stint they ever put in.”

The traditional repair for renal artery aneurysms involves an open surgery with a large scar and a long-term hospital stay, Wun said in a telephone interview. He said the technology, which allows for such a minimally invasive surgery, has not been around for very long but it is the perfect fix for aneurysms.

“I hope that it helps someone else out,” Miller said.

Wun said that Miller would have eventually lost his kidney had the aneurysm gone untreated.

Wun said stints are an excellent treatment for most aneurysms.

“Based on what we’ve used it for in the rest of the body, it should last forever,” he said.

Miller, who was scheduled to fly out to Seattle to work on a boat repair project on Nov. 30, said he did enjoy his time spent in the Big Apple. Before his visit to Downtown Hospital, he stopped in at Radio City to see the “Christmas Spectacular” and paid a visit to James Lipton when he dropped by Pace University to catch a glimpse “Inside the Actors Studio.”