Yolanda’s Story of Kidney Removal Surgery

The first day of the year didn’t start out well for Yolanda Marucco.

While most of us are thinking about how long we’ll be able to keep our resolutions, Yolanda was at her mother’s house in Taylorville when a sudden pain seized her right side.

288-13-01 CropThe 66-year-old Taylorville woman was certain that she was having a gallstone attack, but “since there was so much pain, I wanted to be sure that was the problem,” she said.

She went to the Emergency Department at Taylorville Memorial Hospital that night. She was suffering from gallstones, but the staff wanted to be certain that nothing else was going on. As it turned out, she had an 8.5-centimeter mass on her left kidney.

She was referred to William Severino, MD, a Springfield Clinic urologist, who discussed her treatment options with her. He recommended a laparoscopic nephrectomy and referred her to his colleague, David Lieber, MD, who specializes in robotic and laparoscopic surgery. In other words, her left kidney would need to be removed.

A laparoscopic nephrectomy is a safe and effective way to remove a diseased or cancerous kidney. Laparoscopic means the procedure is minimally invasive so patients have less discomfort compared to the larger incisions required with a traditional open surgery.

Yolanda understood this was her best option, but there was one problem: After 66 years, this would be the first surgery that she had ever had. And she was nervous.

But she had several people in her corner to help her with her anxiety. One of them was Tia Rapps, RN, a urology nurse navigator with Memorial Medical Center.

“I met Tia prior to surgery and she guided me through it all, from contacts on the phone, through meeting prior to surgery, after surgery and on my follow-up checkup and after I was released,” Yolanda said.

“Tia was a lifesaver,” Yolanda recalled. “She answered all my questions. She was there when I got to feeling scared. She’s an asset to your facility.”

She arrived at Memorial Medical Center on Jan. 28 to have her kidney removed.

Christina Watson, a nurse with Dr. Lieber’s practice, also helped ease Yolanda’s worries as well as her son, Rick Marucco, who works at Memorial in Sterile Processing.

“My faith played a big part in my journey, too,” she said.

In her role as a urology nurse navigator, Tia offers patients support and personalized services every step of the way during and after their stays at Memorial.

The urology nurse navigator is a new position at Memorial. Tia started in the position in June 2012. In her role, she meets with patients, especially if they’ve been identified as being anxious before surgery.

Tia provides one-on-one education and emotional support for patients and their families, mainly connecting with them after surgery and before their discharge. She’s in constant communication with patients’ providers, including unit staff, residents and physicians. This allows her to serve as a liaison between these patients and their caregivers. Often, patients receive so much information, it can be a challenge for them to process it. Tia is able to reinforce that information and answer any questions from patients.

Yolanda said she couldn’t have been more grateful for Tia’s role in her care. Today, she said she’s doing “fine.”

“I take each day as a great day,” she said.

For more information on Memorial Urology Services, visit MemorialMedical.com.