Woman, 54, gets advanced surgery after tummy ache signalled major complications

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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Hopeful but worried.

Those were the emotions 54-year-old Yourajpatti Stanwyck felt when she was told that she could benefit from a surgery that was never done before. On one hand, she could get the much-needed surgery and rid herself of her ailment. Though that seems ideal, Stanwyck was also worried that the surgery was never done before in Guyana may cause her further harm.

Though she initially thought it was a simple tummy ache, the woman actually had a pheochromocytoma. The word is a mouthful but it is a rare, usually benign (or noncancerous) tumor that develops in an adrenal gland.

The human body has two of these adrenal glands: one above each kidney. These glands produce hormones (chemical substances) that help to regulate an individual’s blood pressure, metabolism, immune system or other functions.

For Stanwyck, this tumor resulted in her having a “sky-high” blood pressure consistently. And it was evident that she needed surgery to remove the mass.

“They couldn’t do the surgery at New Amsterdam,” Stanwyck told the News Room via a telephone interview on Thursday.

And so, after rounds of engaging Dr. Tameshwar Algu, her doctor in New Amsterdam, Berbice, the woman went to the Georgetown Public Hospital to get the tumor removed. Once there, however, the general surgeons believed that they could help her even more by performing an advanced surgery.

54-year-old Yourajpatti Stanwyck underwent a laparoscopic adrenalectomy surgery that was never done before in Guyana

 

That surgery was laparoscopic adrenalectomy, which is a safe and effective surgery used by skilled surgeons to remove the diseased adrenal gland.

For context, a more conventional surgery would involve making a long cut down someone’s abdomen and then operating on the internal organs. But, laparoscopic surgery involves the surgeon making much smaller cuts on the abdomen and inserting a medical camera and surgical equipment that would allow the surgeon to remove the tumor.

“This is an advanced surgery… This is the type of surgery that someone in North America would have done,” Dr. Hemraj Ramcharran, a General and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeon at the Georgetown Hospital, explained during a press conference on Thursday.

Dr. Ramcharran is trained in laparoscopic surgery and says that he hopes he can train more surgeons in performing these procedures and to facilitate more surgeries so that patients spend less time recovering. And of course, it means that they would not be cut open as done in the more conventional surgery.

For Stanwyck, doing the laparoscopic was the better option. And on November 25, she underwent the surgery- despite her initial anxiety.

“I had the surgery on Thursday and Friday morning when I woke up in the ICU, I thought I didn’t have the surgery (because) I was feeling so good,” she said.

In fact, just one day after the surgery, she said she was able to walk to the washroom by herself. This was a markedly different experience from when she did an open surgery in the early 1990s. Back then, she went weeks recovering and needed to take many antibiotics.

Dr. Ramcharran has emphasised that this laparoscopic surgery should be the standard surgery for patients to receive. And having completed this never-before-done surgery in Guyana, he believes that other major surgeries can be done laparoscopically.

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