Robot-assisted surgeon from The Hills helps save lives

Aussie first: Doctors Simon Chew (left) and Tru Ngo with patient Kevin Porter months after the combined robotic surgery that saved his life. Picture: Courtesy of Strathfield Private Hospital

Aussie first: Doctors Simon Chew (left) and Tru Ngo with patient Kevin Porter months after the combined robotic surgery that saved his life. Picture: Courtesy of Strathfield Private Hospital

Colorectal surgeon Simon Chew and urologist Tru Ngo made Australian history by removing two cancers from a patient in a single operation using the Da Vinci robot.

Dr Chew, who operates at Norwest Private, Westmead Private, Castle Hill and Nepean Private hospitals, also removed a hernia from patient Kevin Potter during the seven-hour operation.

"It was a great outcome for the patient, who is now totally recovered and clear of cancer," Dr Chew said.

"It was a great achievement for me as I never thought one day I would operate together with an urologist. It was fantastic."

Mr Potter said what the doctors were able to achieve was "truly remarkable".

"I had three procedures in one, was out of hospital within a week and now have a great prognosis. They saved my life."

The $3 million robot requires specialised training and is ideal for urological, colorectal and gynecological operations due to its range of motion and ability to navigate narrow cavities.

Dr Chew perfected his training in Korea last year where doctors started using the robotic system in 2006.

Different from the two-dimensional vision from laparoscopic equipment (used in key hole surgery) the Da Vinci machine offers a three-dimensional view.

"The robotic arm also offers a great range of motion, fine control and its use has advantages like nerve preservation, minimal bleeding and shorter recovery time," Dr Chew said. "I hope in the future we can perform more combined surgeries which can improve the clinical outcome for the patient and reduce blood loss."

Blacktown resident Kevin Strange is now in remission after Dr Chew successfully removed his rectal cancer with the Da Vinci machine.

"It was a such a quick recovery and the incisions are so small I can't even see them," he said.

"I think I got the better deal because [other patients] experienced a fair bit more pain."

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