The Royal Marsden

Surgical success for first da Vinci Xi patient

The new da Vinci Xi surgical robot is now fully integrated into the McCarthy Family theatre suite, enabling more patients at The Royal Marsden to experience the benefits of this revolutionary surgical system.

Professor Paris Tekkis undertaking the first da Vinci Xi operation

Diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2012, 58-year-old Rita Hegarty was referred to The Royal Marsden a year later. She was treated with radiotherapy and, on 29 January 2015, became the first patient in England to be treated using the da Vinci Xi robot. Since then, the machine has been used to operate on more than 30 patients, allowing surgeons to operate with greater accuracy than ever before.

“I was told the benefits of the new machine and it seemed like the best option for me at that time,” said Rita.

“When you’re dealing with cancer, you have to trust your consultants. I knew I was in safe hands with Professor Paris Tekkis and his team. “Initially I assumed the robot would be pre-programmed to perform the operation. I didn’t realise that Professor Tekkis would be controlling the robotic arms using a console just a few feet away.

“Being the first patient didn’t faze me. I hear so many stories of people affected by cancer that I want to help in any way I can. So, I hope that I’ve helped surgeons hone their skills and they can now go on to save many more lives with this fantastic piece of machinery.”

For Rita, the most remarkable thing about the experience is how quickly she recovered.

“I felt well enough to walk around within five days and was out of hospital pretty quickly,” she said. “Also, because the robotic procedure is done through keyhole surgery, I have minimal scarring and bruising, which means I’m starting to feel like myself again.”