The Royal Marsden

Gift of robot boosts surgery and training

The new year started on a high for The Royal Marsden when Don McCarthy, ex-Chairman of House of Fraser, philanthropist and long-time supporter of the hospital, made an extremely generous donation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Don McCarthy with children John and Hannah and The Royal Marsden chairman Ian Molson

The £1.5-million donation from Don and his children, John and Hannah, enabled the charity to purchase the latest da Vinci Xi surgical robot – a device that allows surgeons to make microscopic incisions with greater accuracy and control than ever before. The addition of the new robot to The Royal Marsden’s theatre capability has also provided us with the ability to move our robotic surgery into multiple parts of the body, offering greater benefits for our patients.

Don and his children came to the hospital to meet some of our leading surgeons, who are at the forefront of robotic surgery in the UK. Professor Paris Tekkis performed a colorectal surgery – the first operation to take place at the hospital using the da Vinci Xi.

Don, whose wife Diane passed away in 2007 after treatment at The Royal Marsden for bowel cancer, said of his donation: “The Royal Marsden provided an excellent standard of care when Diane was ill and it is still really important to me to feel that I am giving something back. It was fantastic to see at first-hand how our donation has gone towards some really exciting technology that will hugely benefit patients.

“Donating to such a great cause is a fantastic way of ensuring the legacy of my late wife lives on and helps others in some way. My family and I are all committed to The Royal Marsden – it is important that the next generation realises the benefits charitable giving can bring to those less fortunate than ourselves.”

The Robotic Fellowship

The da Vinci Xi robot will be supported by a newly launched Robotic Fellowship, the first of its kind in the UK, which will train up to 30 specialist surgeons in robotic surgery. The da Vinci Xi’s dual console facilitates this exclusive training and will allow trainee involvement on actual operations from day one, with complete patient safety.

The Robotic Fellowship and the state-of-the-art equipment will enable The Royal Marsden to train multidisciplinary robotic surgeon teams for the future, operating in multiple tumour types. This will result in more efficient procedures for the patient and ensure that we remain the leading multi-speciality surgical robotic centre in the UK.

A robot’s-eye view

The da Vinci S robot was first used in the UK to treat prostate cancer patients at The Royal Marsden in 2007 and has since been rolled out to more than 20 trusts. Over the past seven years, it has been used to treat more than 1,000 patients.

The da Vinci Xi’s extended vision, higher magnification and imagery give the surgeon greater precision in their work by providing a magnified, three-dimensional view inside a patient’s body. The surgeon also controls the robot’s computerised arms, which can grip scissors and other instruments, providing greater accuracy when performing operations.

Also, it is often necessary for different areas of the abdomen to be accessed to remove cancers completely. The da Vinci Xi has an advantage over previous versions of the robot in that it can move around the body easily, minimising operating time for the benefit of the patient.

Professor Martin Gore, Medical Director, said: “The Royal Marsden continues to be one of the largest providers of robotic surgical procedures for prostate cancer in the UK, and it is really exciting that with this new da Vinci Xi robot we have the opportunity to move into new tumour types. It really is thanks to our generous donors, such as the McCarthy family, that we can continue to be at the forefront of cancer treatment, surgery and research.”