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Kidney Donation Through the Navel Speeds Recovery

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A novel procedure for people who donate a kidney involves removing the organ through the belly button, the Associated Press reports.

The operation requires a single incision that's smaller than an inch -- instead of as many as six "keyhole" incisions for more traditional surgery -- and it makes for a faster recovery, say doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. They have performed the procedure 10 times and have scheduled the 11th for Thursday. A report on the clinic's first four patients appears in the August issue of the Journal of Urology.

Preliminary data from the first nine patients showed they recovered in about a month, versus about three months for donors who had a typical laparoscopic procedure, the wire service said.

And people who had the new procedure were on pain medication for an average of about four days, compared with 26 days for laparoscopic patients.

The belly button procedure isn't recommended for people who have had major abdominal surgery, or for the obese, a Cleveland Clinic surgeon who has been involved in the operations told the AP.

The list of people awaiting kidney transplants in the United States exceeds 80,000. But only about 13,300 donors were available last year, the wire service said.

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