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  • Annie Villa

A Robot Gave Him a New Liver

A man in his 60’s walked out of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in July of 2023 with a brand new liver, saving him from his liver cancer and cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C.Who does he have to thank for this? While Dr. Adeel Khan and his trusted team of surgeons worked relentlessly to plan and execute a life-saving liver transplant, the true hero of this story may be the robot who performed the actual surgery.

Around 9,000 liver transplants are performed in the U.S. every year, and around 12,500 people are added to the waitlist for liver transplants each year. Liver transplantation is a highly complex surgical procedure, involving incredible precision and a high donor match for it to be successful, as complications can immediately arise from rejection following the procedure. In order to ensure a successful transplantation, surgeons use a combination of precision and dexterity to reach difficult and obscure places in the abdomen while maintaining minimal invasiveness. Dr. Adeel Khan, the leader of the team of surgeons at the University of Washington, dedicated more than five years of relentless effort to pioneer the groundbreaking achievement of the world's first robotic liver transplant.

The procedure began with a team of highly skilled surgeons who meticulously planned every detail. A state-of-the-art surgical robot, equipped with multiple robotic arms, served as an indispensable assistant during the operation. The robot provided the surgical team with unmatched precision, dexterity, and the ability to access difficult-to-reach areas of the abdomen with minimal invasiveness.

The surgery was a remarkable success; the patient is currently doing well and has fully resumed all normal activities. He was easily walking after six weeks as well as golfing and swimming after seven weeks. His case marks a pivotal moment in the medical community. Healthcare professionals, as well as patients, are now faced with the possibility of using technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to add immeasurable value to the operating table. While there are many healthcare professionals fearful of the threat that AI and technology pose to their careers, this liver transplantation is a prime example of professionals working alongside new technology to provide the best outcome to their patients.

Edited By: Anne Sacks

Graphic Designed By: Leah Kim


  1. Bhandari, T. (2023b, September 21). First robotic liver transplant in U.S. performed by Washington University Surgeons. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.,a%20football%2C%20inside%20the%20abdomen.

  2. professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.). Liver transplant: Criteria, surgery, Procedure & Recovery. Cleveland Clinic.

  3. Washu doctors perform first robotic liver transplant surgery in U.S. WashU doctors perform first robotic liver transplant in U.S. (n.d.).



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