Doctor develops special techniques to treat high-risk patients

Michelle Ballard (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Michelle Ballard (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis doctor is filling a need by operating on patients who need surgery but have been deemed too much of a risk.

Dr. Sanjev Kumar specializes in helping patients who have been told that there is no hope.

Kumar is a gynecologic oncologist. He's developed several specialized steps to help patients who are overweight.

Ninety percent of Kumar's patients are overweight and have been told surgery is not possible.

Until last July, Michelle Ballard lived in pain. She had fibroid tumors, cysts on her ovaries, and cervical cancer.

The only cure for her pain: a hysterectomy. But four different doctors told Ballard they could not operate on her because of her weight.

"I was very discouraged. I thought it was going to happen. I thought I just had to hurt, hurt. I thought I was going to die, because I knew with cancer it could spread," Ballard said.

That's when Kumar stepped in.

"Within the operating room, we've developed many specialized tiny steps that when we put those into motion they create a system of safety so we can do the surgery on them," Kumar said.

Kumar used robotic technology to perform the hysterectomy on Ballard. He also utilized small changes to body placement on the operating table and changes to the placement of surgical tools to make the surgery safer.

These techniques are needed now more than ever.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese. It's the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.

A recent study by WalletHub placed Memphis near the top of the list of most obese cities in America.

"It is happening more commonly here where we live, and so we ought to be able to look after people with this problem and we ought to be able to make surgeries safer," Kumar said.

Kumar's robotic hysterectomies are now making it possible for obese women to get the procedure to live a life without pain.

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