15-year-old David Meyers undergoes robotic surgery at Children’s of Alabama

Photo of David Meyers
Photo of David Meyers
David Meyers via Children’s of Alabama
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When 15-year-old David Meyers suffered a bad hit playing high school football, he and his parents, Maureen and David, expected some sort of physical ailment. The aftermath, however, was more serious than they anticipated.

“We figured there would be some bruising or even some sort of cut or tear to his kidneys because that’s the area where he was hit, but the MRI had a much bigger, unexpected surprise,” Maureen said. “They saw a tumor on his kidney.”

While the hit David received caused no real problem — just soreness and bruising — it did cause doctors to run tests that found the tumor, which doctors thought might mean cancer.

From that initial emergency room visit, David was referred to Children’s of Alabama to see Dr. Pankaj Dangle.

Dr. Dangle before performing robotic surgery
Dr. Dangle via Children’s of Alabama

Dr. Dangle is a pediatric urologist and director of robotic surgery at Children’s of Alabama and an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

After a thorough evaluation, a review of David’s radiologic images and a consultation with a medical oncologist, Dangle, along with his team, concluded that with such a high risk of the tumor being cancer, surgery was the best option.

Robotic Surgery
Robotic surgery being performed by a doctor.
Doctors perform robotic surgeries from across the room- via Children’s.

Bham Now interviewed Children’s of Alabama’s Dr. Pankaj Dangle, who has now performed a dozen robotic surgeries.

The benefits of robotic surgery include:

  • faster recovery time
  • less pain
  • little to no scarring
  • minimal blood loss
  • shorter hospital stay

“We are promoting Children’s as a pediatric robotic center in the Southeast,” Dangle said. “Robotic surgery gives us the skills of finer work. It is more precise.”

David’s speedy recovery
David Meyers and his mom Maureen
David and his mom, Maureen via Children’s of Alabama.

The doctors and nurses at Children’s made us so confident in the decisions that were made,” Maureen said. “The scariest part was that we had to wait until after surgery for a biopsy to reveal whether or not it was cancer.”

The performance of David’s nephrectomy by Dangle was deemed a success, and David was able to return home after 24 hours.

“It was incredible,” Maureen said. “He had the surgery on a Friday, went home the next day and was back at school by the next Wednesday afternoon. The recovery time was great. It’s hard to see your child, especially when he is so athletic and active, not able to do what he loves. So the short recovery time was wonderful.”

And more good news for David – the tumor was benign. David must visit the doctor for regular checkups for three years, but he is completely healthy. And because of the robotic surgery, he only had to sit out from his normal activities for six weeks. Since then, he’s already played an entire baseball season and he’s even back to football, but he wears a little extra padding around his one kidney.