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A christmas gift to remember

Thursday, 20th December, 2012 5:00am

Anne and Patrick O'Mahony from Donoughmore received an early Christmas present this year as they welcomed their new baby girl Zoey, born at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) last week. Zoey's birth date 12/12/12 will be one that her family and friends will always remember but for Anne and husband Patrick it is particularly significant.

Last year, they became parents to baby Lucy after Anne was one of the first women in Europe to have been assisted in a successful pregnancy as a result of a procedure carried out by robotic surgery before pregnancy at CUMH. One year on, the family has a second occasion to celebrate just in time for Christmas. This is the first time in Ireland that a mother has achieved a second full term pregnancy having had surgery with this robotic technique prior to pregnancy.

Speaking after the birth, Zoey's mother Anne said:

“I am thrilled with the arrival of baby Zoey who looks just like big sister Lucy. I am most grateful for the intervention of the da Vinci robot surgical system which has helped me to have two successful pregnancies and given me two beautiful girls.”

Through the use of the da Vinci surgical system, patients are now offered a minimal invasive surgery option for complex surgeries. The system is also used for urologic, cardiac and general procedures.

“When a woman's cervix is weak, the woman is likely to have a pregnancy loss because the cervix begins to open in early pregnancy with resulting miscarriage. In order to prevent this devastating problem from recurring, we can perform a surgical procedure before a further pregnancy called an interval abdominal cervical cerclage (stitch) to keep the cervix closed for the future. A closed cervix helps a developing baby to remain inside the uterus until the mother reaches 37-38 weeks of pregnancy and the baby is then delivered by elective Caesarean section so that the stitch can stay in position for future pregnancies,” Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at CUMH, Dr Barry O'Reilly explained.

In most hospitals, the gynaecological surgery, which Anne underwent, is performed through an open abdominal surgery which requires the patient to stay in hospital for a number of days followed by a long recovery period

“We are delighted that this technology is available for this type of surgery. The  da Vinci surgical system benefits patients because it involves less pain and scarring, reduced risk of infection, reduced blood loss and fewer transfusions, quicker recovery time and discharge from hospital and return to normal activities,” said Dr O Reilly.

CUMH established its gynaecological robotic programme in 2008 having performed the first robotic gynaecological surgical procedure in Great Britain and Ireland in 2007.

Although the general term 'robotic surgery' is often used to refer to the technology, the system does not actually perform the surgery. The da Vinci system cannot run on its own as it lacks decision-making software. It relies on human input. The machine consists of four arms, three of which hold surgical instruments while the fourth holds an endoscopic camera. The arms of the machine are controlled by remotely by the surgeon who sits at a computer console, manipulating the controls while viewing an enlarged 3D image of the surgical site.

Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) was also designated the first European robotic gynaecological epicentre becoming the only hospital in Europe, under the directorship of consultant obstetricians Dr. Barry O'Reilly and Dr Matt Hewitt, to perform both cancer and non-cancer procedures using sophisticated robotics.  

“Dr O'Reilly, the midwives and other staff at Cork University Maternity Hospital have been wonderful to us throughout the entire process and I can't thank them enough. Our beautiful, healthy baby Zoey is a wonderful early Christmas present for Anne, Lucy and I. Great credit is due to Dr O'Reilly and all the staff at CUMH, ” Anne and Patrick O'Mahony said.

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