Exchange students use robotic surgical device at Carson City Hospital

By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 10:23 am on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The da Vinci surgical technician Scott Young explains to Veljko Samardzic of Montenegro and Diego Gaitan of Spain how robotic arms give a surgeon more movement than the previous hand-held, long-shafted instruments, which have no wrists. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

CARSON CITY — Four Greenville and Belding foreign exchange students who attend Grattan Academy were at Carson City Hospital on May 21, learning about da Vinci in the surgical ward.
However, the students were not learning about the legendary inventor. These students got the hands on experience of the da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic surgical device, which is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach.
The students used and controlled the robotic device while learning how the robot gave patients a less-invasive procedure, reduced blood loss and a speedier recovery.
It was an “unbelievable” experience for Veljko Samardzic of Montenegro.
“It is like science fiction,” Samardzic said. “This system compared to what I see back home isn’t comparable. This (da Vinci) like comes from another world.”
Samardzic has grown up with family who are in the medical field and he plans on attending college to pursue a career in the medical field.
“I would like to be a neurosurgeon,” Samardzic said.
For Diego Gaitan of Spain, Monday’s opportunity gave him the chance to experience his future.
“I knew this was going to be impressive,” Gaitan said. The controls operate so easily I never would have imagined it was this simple.”
Gaitan would like to be a surgeon like his father and mother. His father is a general surgeon and his mother is an eye surgeon. He also has uncles in the medical field. Gaitan came here to study English because most medical research is done in English he said. His plan is to attend college in America after he graduates. While observing da Vinci Surgical System in action Gaitan’s reaction was full of excitement.
“I going to tell everybody at home,” he said. “My family and friends, everyone what a great time I had today and how great this machine is.”

The da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic surgical device, which is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. - Daily News/Lonnie Smith

Scott Young, surgical tech for da Vinci, worked with students as they observed each other picking up pennies, rubber bands and paper clips with the device. Young explained to the students inspiring to be surgeons how the camera on da Vinci provided a three dimensional view for the surgeon improve upon conventional laparoscopy, in which the surgeon uses hand-held, long-shafted instruments, which have no wrists.
“A typical laparoscopy was 2D,” Young said. “With a 3D it allows you work more efficient on patients. The magnification on the camera is significant so inside an actual patient you can see tiny blood vessels that may need cauterization.”
Young demonstrated the magnification on a penny by having a student pick it up with da Vinci and magnify the penny to see the Lincoln statue.
While using the controls, Keita Iwai of Japan compared the experience similar to a video game
“It was fun using the technology they have at hand,” Iwai said. “To move the instruments or to reposition the camera by simply moving my hands.”
Iwai whose father is a lung surgeon wants to go to college and study sports medicine.
“I want to work in schools and help with athletes in training,” he said.
Greenville resident Winnie Rich is a host for Keita Iwai and Taemin Park of South Korea. Rich said she has been doing this since August 2011.
“The students are awesome,” Rich said. “They have worked hard to be here today. I am so proud of everyone of them.”
Park has family who are in the medical field but feels he wants to be on the business side of things.
“I am here to see what this would mean in a business aspect,” he said. “This machine is revolutionary and it is fascinating to see in action.”
The students got to suture on practice material for the da Vinci Surgical System and were having fun stitching up the material.
“This is very cool and I am so lucky to be here today using this machine it was fun,” Iwai said. “But if this was human a real human it would be way different than fun.”
Carson City Hospital received the da Vinci Surgical System in October 2011, since the device installation the surgical staff has completed more than 100 surgeries.

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