Robot surgery brings mercy for proud parents

Dr Clare Boothroyd with Atia Ali, Kiba Aoci and baby Afsa at Greenslopes Private Hospital

Robot surgery has helped a Queensland couple turn tears of sadness into tears of joy as they fulfilled a long-time dream of bringing a beautiful baby into the world.

Atia Ali and husband Kiba Aoci had tried multiple fertility treatments for five years after a double blow of health problems hit their hopes of conceiving.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumour, while fibroids were found in her uterus.

"There was a time where we thought, 'Please God, let us have the experience of raising kids, we want to experience this test'. We're just so happy to see that it's now happened and we have our beautiful daughter," Kiba said.

They found their eventual saviour at Greenslopes Private Hospital in late 2019, when they met fertility specialist Dr Clare Boothroyd - who recommended Atia undergo robotic surgery to remove the painful fibroids.

"I felt we had such a special bond with Dr Clare, she's a very positive person and she gave us hope," Atia said.

"I used to look at all the baby photos in her office and think, 'When will it be my baby up there?' "

Just four months later, the couple - who live south of Brisbane in Logan - were thrilled to learn they were expecting a child.

On 1 February, 2021, Afsa Rahima was born via caesarean section, the first at Greenslopes following robotic fertility surgery. Her name means 'Clear Mercy' in Sudanese.

"Now I'm just in a dream and it's no longer tears of sadness, it's tears of joy," Atia said.

"I'll be getting a photo of my baby to Dr Clare."

Afsa's arrival was possible thanks to one of two da Vinci robots at Greenslopes Private Hospital, where Dr Boothroyd is Medical Director of Care Fertility.

"I really think it's the most exciting development in technology for gynaecological surgery throughout my career," she said.

"It makes difficult surgery easier, it can reduce a patient's length of stay and can reduce their pain, plus it can facilitate natural conception and reduce the need for IVF."

The Brisbane hospital is expecting to welcome three more babies in 2021 from mothers who have had fertility surgery via the da Vinci robot.

Dr Boothroyd, who has trained extensively with the device, hailed it as "the way of the future".

"The magnification is good. The dexterity of the instruments allows meticulous placement of sutures which the uterus needs if it's going to carry a pregnancy, because that suture line is going to be stretched 40 times in pregnancy," she explained.

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