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Robotic Surgery Creates New Bladder

April 02, 2024

Every few years, Anoop Meraney, MD, a urologic surgeon with Hartford HealthCare, gets a letter from his patient, Robert Wilson. Tucked in with the words are photos of the exotic trips Wilson took that year.

It’s not bragging – the letters are Wilson’s way of showing Dr. Meraney that he’s enjoying the life the doctor helped save.

“I’d do anything for that guy,” says Wilson, who lives in Florida now but spent years in Connecticut after immigrating from his native Scotland in the 1980s. “I write to thank Dr. Meraney and to show him pictures of the places I’ve been because of him.”

Tough options

Their relationship goes back a decade, when Wilson, a development engineer for Pratt Whitney at the time, was regularly traveling to Montreal for work. On one trip, he “desperately needed to go to the toilet.” Once in there, he saw blood in the bowl, but thought he’d just waited to long to go. The same thing happened a few months later. An MRI ordered by his primary care provider revealed a four-inch tumor in his bladder.

“I had no other symptoms!” Wilson recalls, adding his doctor “told me I had to see this doctor or I’d be dead in two years.”

Dr. Meraney is a part of the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute, which offers world class urology and kidney care right here in Connecticut.

Wilson was 57 and went to see Dr. Meraney, who presented three options: having a tube inserted to empty the bladder, something Wilson “didn’t fancy;” using a bag to drain his body’s urine; or undergoing a more radical procedure, called transurethral resection, by which a new bladder is created from a 12-inch section of intestine.

“He basically replumbed me,” Wilson says of Dr. Meraney. “It was all done robotically, too, which blew me away.”

As fascinated as he was in the procedure as an engineer, the experience was life-altering for him.

“Everyone knows we’re going to die someday, but when someone actually tells you you’re going to die, it’s another thing. I remember driving home and feeling all emotions – rage, fear. I was picking out the songs and hymns for my funeral,” he says. “It just does something to your psyche.”

After a 14-hour procedure and about a week in the hospital, however, Wilson noticed his ability to urinate return. He learned how to push the urine out because muscles in the area had been cut during the surgery.

“Here we are, 10 years later, and I’m doing just fine!” says Wilson, whose vacation photos include glimpses of him on a camel in front of pyramids and on safari.

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