New Hyde Park woman undergoes complex procedure

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Trudy Romano had all of the blood drained out of her body and her body temperature cooled to a chilling 45 degrees by North Shore University Hospital surgeons during a difficult operation to remove a kidney tumor that had spread into her heart.

The 85−year−old New Hyde Park, L.I., woman, who has worked at a local chocolate shop for 25 years, said her doctors did not tell her that her blood would be removed and she joked that she would not have gone through with the Feb. 13 surgery had she been informed.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t know about it,” Romano said as one of the surgeons, Dr. Alan Hartman, described during a news conference Friday at North Shore how the surgical team used a heart−lung machine to cool Romano’s body and drain her blood. “I don’t know if I want to hear this.”

“They rolled me into the operating room and that was it,” Romano said. “From everything I’m hearing today, I would’ve never OK’d it.”

Romano underwent a CAT scan in 2008 after being diagnosed with a gall bladder problem and the tumor in her kidney was detected.

Dr. Lee Richstone, the director of laparoscopic and robotic surgery at North Shore−LIJ and one of Romano’s, said the tumor had spread to the vena cava, or the vein that draws blood away from the kidney and into the heart.

The growth was a Stage IV tumor and is the most dangerous vascular tumor, Richstone said, and is found in only 4 to 10 percent of kidney cancer patients.

Hartman said that type of tumor is curable, but needs to be completely extracted with no remnants remaining in the body following an operation.

The best method for removing the tumor involves lowering the body’s temperature so organs are not as dependent on receiving oxygen, while stopping the patient’s circulation, Hartman said.

With Romano’s age came concerns about her ability to withstand the operation, which has a 5 percent to 15 percent mortality rate, Richstone said.

But the 85−year­old’s job at Sundae Palace in New Hyde Park, where she helps customers and also hauls 25−pound boxes, and her general condition persuaded doctors that the procedure would be successful.

“It seemed Trudy was an unusual octogenarian who could handle this type of operation,” Richstone said.

The surgical team spent 90 minutes cooling Romano’s temperature down to the point that she was put under hypothermic cardiac arrest before draining her blood. Romano was without blood in her body for 22 minutes.

“It’s about as close to being dead ... that you can come doing this type of procedure,” Hartman said.

There were no complications from the operation and Romano walked out of the hospital 11 days later.

“It was about a seamless operation, for a long operation, as you can possibly have,” Hartman said.

Romano said she is looking forward to visiting her children and grandchildren in upstate Oneonta next week and is considering going back to her job at Sundae Palace.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group