VIDEO: Gabby meet robot...robot meet Gabby

When Gabrielle Gutierrez’s parents were told that the Jacksonville, NC, teen would need surgery to remove a (non-cancerous) massive tumor from her throat, they were terrified. However, Gabby was the first UNC pediatric patient to have oral robotic surgery. On Tuesday Gabby and her family returned to UNC Hospitals to 'meet' the robot.

VIDEO: Gabby meet robot...robot meet Gabby click to enlarge Gabby Gutierrez, 15, of Jacksonville, NC, got a chance to meet the robot that helped save her life Tuesday, Aug. 31, at UNC Hospitals.

View the full, orginal article on UNC Health Care's blog.

Typically, a surgery of this magnitude meant invasive cuts to Gabby’s chin and neck in order to access the base of her tongue.  For a 15-year-old teenage girl that could have been devastating.  But UNC Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors Adam Zanation and Carlton Zdanski were convinced the robot would work. And it did.  Dr. Zdanski, a pediatric airway specialist, paved the way for Dr. Adam Zanation, a robotic surgeon, to reach the tumor and remove it.

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Gabby got an up close and personal look at the da Vinci that helped to save her life.  It was something she had been curious about since being told there would be a robot in her operating room. Gabby and her parents, Joel and Kathy Gutierrez, each had a chance to sit at the robotic console and use their own hands and fingers to “move” the robot. View pictures of Gabby’s visit here.

“It was pretty freaking spectacular,” Gabby said after she got a chance to play with the robot in person. “I mean, this is so cool. I definitely have a story to tell at school tomorrow.”

Even more spectacular is Gabby’s recovery. She’s already back in school and on Wednesday, Sept. 1, less than a month after her surgery, she will return to the soccer field for the first time.

“Her recovery time was amazing and I am just so thankful,” said Kathy Gutierrez, Gabby’s mom. “I can’t even tell you how thankful I am that we were treated so well by so many wonderful staff here. I can’t say enough about the hospital itself and the doctors. They are amazing.”