How doctors save Tatarstan Paralympian’s kidney and career

A unique surgery in Republican Clinical Hospital will help the athlete to rejoin his team

A unique surgery on removing Snow Leopard Wings basketball player and member of the Russian Paralympic squad Dinar Kamaliyev’s big kidney stone was done in Kazan. Traditional abdominal surgery would have made the basketball player to retire. However, Moscow Professor, Doctor of Medical Sciences Nikolay Grigoryev who arrived in Tatarstan to participate in a urology forum removed the Paralympian’s two stones different in size with endoscopic lithotripsy in an hour during a masterclass. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent learnt the details of the unusual surgery and found out when the athlete would resume training.

Lucky coincidence

Master of Sport in Wheelchair Basketball from Kazan Dinar Kamaliyev sought medical advice in November. According to Urology Unit 2 of Republican Clinical Hospital Mikhail Ulyanin, the athlete had been suffering from pain for the last few months, while the Paralympian has had stones in his kidney for long — it is connected with this major disease.

“Our unusual patient has been disabled since childhood, he has abnormal development of the peripheral nervous system, which is manifested in dysfunction of lower limbs. He previously had small stones too, some of them left the body on their own, the other part was removed by distant lithotripsy, but this worked only for small stones, the possibilities were limited,” Mikhail Ulyanin explained.

After the next dynamic examination of Dinar Kamaliyev, a 2 cm stone was detected in a kidney. The kidney’s size is 12x5 cm, and the stone in its pelvis occupied almost all the space, it wouldn’t resolve itself, the head of the unit says. The basketball player was hospitalised. With the traditional method, the Paralympian would have to be made an approximately 15 cm incision. After an open surgical intervention, it takes patients longer to recover, they have more pain syndromes, the doctor noted. Doctors didn’t give him any guarantee that he could keep doing sport.

“An open stone removal surgery could make the athlete retire,” thinks Mikhail Ulyanin.

Kidney stone disease is quite widely spread around the world, it accounts for up to 20% among other diseases in different parts of the planet, the doctor said. According to him, there are a lot of patients with such a diagnosis in RCH’s Urology Unit — up to 30%. The 2nd urological forum in memory of Professor Rinat Galeyev took place in Kazan last week. Moscow specialists were going to give the audience a masterclass on stone removal.

“Dinar Kamaliyev was lucky, so to speak, that his hospitalisation and the conference coincided. As he is an athlete, this surgery indeed was necessary for his future life, this is why it was decided to do him a surgery,” the head of the unit said.

“On the third day, I already walked along the corridor”

Head of European Medical Centre clinic, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Nikolay Grigoriyev performed percutaneous endoscopic laser lithotripsy — nephrolithotomy — with the help of Russian equipment, which is cheaper than its foreign analogue, Mikhail Ulyanin said. The next day after the surgery, Dinar Kamaliyev could get out of bed and eat normally.

“This minimally invasive surgery will allow the athlete to stay in shape, and in a month he will completely recover,” the Kazan doctor promised.

Such a method is quite popular around the world, while its application in Russian regions depends on instruments, Nikolay Grigoriyev who has done over a thousand such surgeries explained.

“This surgery had one peculiarity. We do surgeries with rigid instruments (inflexible) with which it is impossible to reach all places because they can’t bend. And the patient had two stones. To remove the other, small stone, flexible instruments were additionally used,” the Moscow urologist explained the specific situation in which they didn’t have to puncture the kidney additionally, which is required in some cases.”

After such a surgery, which lasts from 20 minutes to an hour, the patient doesn’t have to wait for the affected tissues to recover, muscles to grow, there is no risk of blooding because just one puncture is made instead of incision, Nikolay Grigoriyev stressed. He is ready to share the experience with Kazan colleagues and is sure that they will successfully introduce the technology that is new for them.

“This technology is mastered in Hospital No. 7, Kazan Federal University’s clinic. Hopefully, it will be widely used in RCH soon,” Mikhail Ulyanin said.

“I have had stones for around six years already. I didn’t manage to have them removed on time. I was diagnosed in RCH during the week, found out the stone was big enough,” says silver and bronze medallist of the Russian Wheelchair Basketball Championship, forward Dinar Kamaliyev. “I had the surgery done last Friday. I felt some pain for two days, while on the third day they gradually faded away. I sat in my wheelchair and already walked along the corridor. The recovery would have taken at least a year after abdominal surgery. While new technologies allow recovering fast, and it is important for me. I am already doing pull-ups to train muscles. I am due to be discharged next Friday, and I will resume training probably in two weeks after that.”

To be in shape by February

It was decided to develop wheelchair basketball and Snow Leopard Wings club was created in 2009 when Paralympians gathered in Kazan at Sports Power forum. 19-year-old Dinar Kamaliyev joined the team at this time. With time, the small team of Snow Leopard Wings grew into 15 people.

“We began to achieve serious successes literally three years later. We started to defeat the teams that had been existing, for example, for 12 years. First, we won bronze medals in Russian competitions for three years, then we were one step up on the podium. In the last five years, we have been fighting for the first place among eight teams in Russia’s championship,” the wheelchair basketball player said.

The rich sports life requires total self-dedication. The Tatarstan Paralympian actively travels across the country and abroad. With experienced coaches Sergey Chistov and Natalya Chistova, he plays with the team in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk. He has been to Germany many times, as well as Italy and Great Britain. Everybody applauded him when he hit the target almost from the middle of the court at the last seconds of ball possession in a match two years ago in Petersburg. In Tyumen, Snow Leopard Wings got a chance of leading the game to a victory in overtime because Dinar Kamaliyev managed to level the score at the last seconds in regulation period. The Paralympian has gold and silver medals of international competitions, an analogue of the European League, under his belt.

In the last three years, Kamaliyev has constantly been called up in the country’s team, for this purpose, athletes from different cities of Russia go to a camp. The Kazan forward was away during the whole last season: he left his home around twice a month. On 4 December, Snow Leopard Wings team was going to another tournament in Saint Petersburg they will play without Dinar Kamaliyev. The coaches and his teammates are waiting for him, of course. Key games of the Russian championship will be in Moscow in February. So Dinar will have enough time to gain shape after the surgery.

By Yekaterina Ablayeva. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov