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Rugby Legends Visit Hospital to See Surgical Robot

RUGBY legends Eddie Butler and Bob Norster had a front row seat to watch Wales’ biggest hospital’s surgical robot in action.

The pair were part of a Prostate Cymru group invited to University Hospital of Wales (UHW) to see the £2.5 million robot. The charity has provided funding to support the training of surgeons from across Wales in using the robot.

Five surgeons from three health boards have benefitted from the training programme. The surgeons involved are Neil Fenn & John Featherstone (West Wales) Howard Kynaston & Krishna Narahari (Cardiff) Jim Wilson (Gwent).

More than 250 patients have already been treated using the robot, which dramatically reduces recovery time and is much less invasive for the patient.

Eddie Butler, a presenter with the BBC, said: “We are so proud to be able to visit UHW and see the surgical robot in action. We have been supporting the charity for a few years now and helped raise the funds that went towards the Da Vinci training, so to see it in action was a great experience.”

Professor Howard Kynaston, the Professor of Urological Surgery for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB), said: “We were very pleased to be able to show our supporters from Prostate Cymru how the robot works. Whilst they had seen video footage before, one can really appreciate how much of a leap forward this is in terms of surgery when you see the 3D imaging and the surgical team working with the robot.”

He added that the robot had great benefits for patients who experience a much faster return to normal activities than conventional surgery, with reduced blood loss and peri-operative problems.

Bob Norster, director of sports management company, Engagesport, said: “We are happy to have played our part in fund-raising to help towards the necessary training. This is a major step in helping individuals with prostate diseases and we hope many more health boards invest in the service.”

The robot, which was funded by the Welsh Government’s Health Technology Fund and Cardiff University, has treated 258 patients since it arrived at UHW. It also treats patients from across Wales, with surgeons from Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg having been trained alongside Cardiff and Vale colleagues.

Andy Thomas, the Chairman of Prostate Cymru, said the charity was very pleased to see how its funding in training support was being used.

He said: “It makes an amazing difference to see it there in action. It will drive our ambassadors and fundraisers to campaign harder and have a better understanding of the difference it is making.”

Andy, an Urologist himself, said that the cancer was one of the most common in Wales, with one in three people having a family history of the disease. He said it was important that those with that history have a conversation with their doctor about the pros and cons of a prostate test. He said the robot was a great example of collaboration across Wales.

Andy said: “I love the fact that different health boards and surgeons are working together. I think the team is outstanding. I am just impressed with the set-up and with the team-work on show – plus the fact they have turned this into a high volume service treating hundreds of patients is impressive.

“I think the robot brings fantastic benefits. It benefits the patient and improves their quality of life with 24 hour surgery and a much quicker recovery time.

“We want to support the robotic project anyway we can.”

Operation Robot, the campaign to bring robotic surgery to Cardiff, was launched by West Wales cancer patient and founder chairman of Prostate Cymru, Ray Murray. His wife Lynne was among the charity group that joined the visit.

Dr Graham Shortland, the UHB’s Medical Director, said: “We are very pleased to invite Prostate Cymru so they can see the robot being used, but also so we can personally thank them for their continued support.

“Working more effectively with our partners and excelling at teaching, research and innovating are key parts of the UHB’s ten year Shaping Our Future Wellbeing strategy, and robotic surgery is a great example of that.”

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