A ROBOT saved a woman’s life in a pioneering surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.

Denise Parker, 54, discovered she had cancer after waking up in agony on holiday in Malta.

The grandmother was rushed to hospital where doctors told her gallstones had caused the pain and further tests revealed she had a cancerous tumour on her right kidney.

Denise, of the Fremnells, Basildon said: “I thought it was food poisoning and I saw my abdomen swell up, it was bizarre and quite scary.

“When they told me about the tumour I thought I was watching a scene of a soap, it was so surreal, I couldn’t take it in and my husband went ashen as the doctor explained about the tumour and how they can go undetected as they don’t show any symptoms.”

Denise and husband John returned home for more tests to discover if the cancer had spread and a panicked Denise began to plan her funeral.

She said: “I had moment on my own where I broke down and cried and I thought who is going to take care of my husband? I’m not going to see my daughter get married or my granddaughter, who I adore, grow up.

“It was overwhelming and I began arranging my own funeral, I picked out my coffin and everything so it was one less thing for my family to do. I couldn’t bear for it to be out of my control, I started to lose my hair, not due to chemo, but I was waking up in the night and was pulling my hair out.”

Tests revealed the cancer had not spread and plans were made for Denise to have the tumour removed at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon, used a robot to remove Denise’s right kidney in a pioneering operation that was broadcast around the world.

The operation was less invasive and had a quicker recovery time than conventional open surgery.

Denise, who left hospital four days after the robotic surgery, said: “The next morning I was walking up and down the corridors. It saved my life and was a total success. When I heard it was a robot it all sounded a bit space age to me but I trusted Ben completely. I’m so grateful to be given this chance at life.”

DENISE’S surgery was only the second of its kind to be broadcast around the world.

Guy’s was the only hospital in the UK taking part in the Worldwide Robotic Surgery 24 Hour Event that saw 12 of the world’s leading robotic centres broadcast their pioneering operations from four continents.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ carries out the most robotic operations in the UK – with more than 400 cases a year. The Trust now has two da Vinci surgical robots, after the latest da Vinci Xi robotic console was installed. This will enable surgeons to perform more than 150 additional operations a year.

Mr Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “We are extremely grateful that Denise was so enthusiastic about sharing her experience during the worldwide broadcast.

“Robotic kidney removal has so many benefits. Rather than having to make a very large cut, we are able to remove the kidney through small keyhole incisions. Using the robot is like having your hands inside the patient without cutting them open.”

Surgeons control the robot’s ‘arms’ from a console as they look down microscopes on the end of each arm to see inside the keyhole incisions.