I Owe My Life to da Vinci and Mount Sinai

In September 2011, my childhood dream of going to my favorite city in the world Florence (Firenze), Italy came true. While long ago, my elementary school teacher taught me about the magnificent culture and history of the masters of the Italian Renaissance and of Florence, I did not know one year later Michael A. Palese, MD, and the wonderful staff at The Mount Sinai Hospital would be saving my kidney and my life with the robot named after the world’s true genius, Leonardo da Vinci.

Antonio Dr PaleseMy name is Antonio Guadagnino, and I am a CPA with a demanding tax practice in Astoria, Queens. I have a great family (in the photo above, my father is on the left, then me, then Dr. Palese on the right), many good friends, and an all-around great life. On August 6, 2012, while working with a client at my desk, I suddenly had a severe pain on my left side which quickly put me in the emergency room. There, the doctors discovered that I had a large stone in the right tube going to my bladder, a tumor in my left kidney the size of a small lemon (5.5 cm), and a smaller (2 cm) growth in the right kidney.

Mount Sinai Provided Advanced Treatments When Others Did Not

I was in a race against time trying to get the right kidney cancer treatment. I saw three different local urologists who told me that all they would be able to do is remove my entire left kidney. Fortunately, after doing research, I was led, I believe with God’s intervention, to Mount Sinai and Dr. Palese, Director of Minimally Invasive Urology at Mount Sinai and a leading expert on robotic kidney surgery

I drove to Mount Sinai in the afternoon rush like a New York City cabbie, making it in record time. I had made a future appointment but inquired if the doctor was in and available. After seeing my face and listening to my story, I was shown into Dr. Palese’s office. He looked at my films, comforted me, and was honest regarding the procedures that could be done, including robotic surgery.

Robotic Kidney Surgery at Mount Sinai Saved My Kidneys

On October 4, 2012, I went in for the surgery with a positive attitude, confident that I had the best people qualified to help me. Weeks after the surgery, I saw Dr. Palese and he told me the good and the not-so- good news. He was able to save my entire kidney by using the da Vinci robot because fortunately the tumor was on the bottom of the kidney. Unfortunately, the tumor was cancerous, but it was removed and Dr. Palese said I was cancer-free and no additional treatments were required. Praise God!

We knew my other kidney (right side) had a 2 cm tumor which was probably non-cancerous. Dr. Palese and I agreed to remove it sooner, rather than later, to avoid the possibility that it might grow into something dangerous in the future. On July 2, 2013, I had the second da Vinci robotic procedure. Fortunately, this tumor was on top of the kidney, and Dr. Palese was also able to save the entire second kidney. He also determined that the tumor was non-cancerous.

I was sent home within two days, and I experienced a much faster recovery this time. I was better prepared, mentally positive, and in better shape physically thanks to my friend and fitness trainer Erin Alexander at Matrix Fitness Club. I learned the best thing to do after surgery is to keep moving, to get up and walk as soon as possible.

Now, I am happy and eager to share my story. I admit when first I heard that I had cancer I thought to "keep it in the family" (an Italian thing maybe), but I had a burning feeling inside me to tell my wonderful story of the blessing I have received.

If this testimony gives someone out there experiencing a similar situation hope and inspiration then that genuinely brings me joy, and I will feel the entire challenge has served a greater purpose.

With Kidney Cancer Behind Me, I’m So Thankful

Leonardo da Vinci was a great Renaissance artist and genius, full of talent and gifts. Well, there are modern day Renaissance gifted people that exist, and I personally experienced this at Mount Sinai in the wonderful, compassionate, talented people who work with their minds and hearts. Bravo!

I would like to thank Dr. Palese, the entire staff of great people at Mount Sinai’s Department of Urology, and my friends and family who provided encouragement and continue to do so.

"And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong … Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." (Acts 3:16)

Most importantly I thank my Savior, Redeemer, and Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the blessing to continue my life and being positive and grateful for the life I have to be lived!

Antonio Guadagnino