A journalist says she has “finally got her life” back after a complex kidney operation cured the crippling pain she has endured for most of her life.

Megan Kenyon, 26, from north London, suffers from a condition called congenital pelvi-ureteric junction obstruction which means the junction from the kidney to the bladder is narrower than normal. 

Since the age of 10, she has suffered severe pain and frequent infections – with anything from drinking too much water or having a cup of coffee setting off an attack.   

When Megan was younger doctors were reluctant to carry out an operation  to repair the obstruction because it was considered too risky.

But thanks to advances in surgical techniques and the use of a surgical robot, Megan is now living a pain-free life at last.

Megan said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that I have got my life back. I am enjoying it and making the most of it. It is so lovely for my friends and family not to have to see me in pain and that I am no longer forced to miss out on fun because I just have to lie in bed. The whole thing has been so amazing.”

Because robots allow surgeons to make much smaller incisions than ordinary surgery, it means they can make much more precise repairs and there is less chance a patient will develop an infection. It also gives them a magnified view of the internal organs. 

There are now around 40 such operations carried out on adults at the Royal Free Hospital per year. 

However, for Megan the road to her curative treatment has not been easy.

“It was really frustrating,” she said. “I wanted to live a normal life but it only got more difficult as I got older. If I had a hangover I’d be in bed all day or forcing myself to walk around in awful pain.”

A severe kidney infection when Megan was 24 led to scarring around the organ.

“The scarring made the pain a whole lot worse,” said Megan. “I’d just started a new job and within the first month I had to take a couple of days off. My bosses were incredibly understanding but I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t committed to my work. The horrible thing was I’d have no idea what would set it off. Perhaps I’d drunk too much tea or coffee?”

Megan ended up being hospitalised twice because of the pain she was in. “Painkillers didn’t touch it but in a way I’m weirdly glad I had to go to hospital because finally I ended up getting some answers. I had a chat with a consultant at UCLH and they did some further tests and advised I needed an operation with a robotic urologist at the Royal Free Hospital.”

With the aid of the Da Vinci robot, surgeon Prasad Patki removed both the obstruction and the scarring in a 90 minute operation last October, and although Megan has been left with a slightly smaller kidney, it functions well.

Megan said: “Everyone was so kind to me. I know how hard people are working and I just really appreciated it. Mr Patki rang me before the operation and talked me through it so I was fully aware of what was going to happen. It was so cool that he operated on me with a robot and I’m very grateful that there is minimal scarring.”

After a couple of weeks recuperating and a further couple of weeks working from her family’s home Megan came back to London in time to enjoy the run up to Christmas. 

Prasad said: “About a quarter of patients won’t ever need surgery as their condition will remain stable but for the majority drinking fluid, whether that’s alcohol or not, can lead to debilitating pain. This means they end up going out less, their quality of life is severely impacted, they often try to drink less and in turn this can make them even more prone to infection.”

Prasad says almost every patient experiences relief from the severe pain. 

Going forward Prasad believes that the operation could even end up becoming a day case.

He said: “At the moment we keep these adult patients in overnight but they are young and highly motivated so I can see that being something we will look to develop in the future.”