Our Patients Say it Best

Your friends and neighbors from throughout southwest Michigan and beyond share their experiences at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Do you have a story to share? Click on the "What's Your Story" button and complete the form. 

A Very Lucky Man – Bad Kidney Causes Back Pain - Mitchel Simmons


Jun, 2018

Physicians: Benjamin Stockton, MDDavid Kraklau, MD

When 56-year-old Mitchel Simmons’ blood pressure sky rocketed one afternoon, he thought he was having a heart attack and immediately called 9-1-1. At the hospital, a cardiologist performed a series of tests which revealed no issues with his heart. However, a few weeks after returning home, he began experiencing severe pain in his back. He had suffered from back pain for the past two years but this was nothing like he had ever felt before.

After a return trip to the hospital, Mitchel learned he had a non-functioning kidney which would need to be surgically removed. Mitchel’s primary care provider, referred him to urologist, David Kraklau, MD. Dr. Kraklau performed a CT scan and, after reviewing the results, recommended Mitchel meet with robotic-trained surgeon, Benjamin Stockton, MD. 

Dr. Stockton explained that he could use the da Vinci® Xi™ system to remove Mitchel’s kidney through a few small incisions. The robotic procedure offers a number of benefits over traditional surgery including faster recovery and less pain.

“When Dr. Stockton first mentioned robotic surgery I was a bit apprehensive,” said Mitchel. “But he did a great job explaining everything to myself and my mother and brother – it was like talking to another member of our family. He was very upfront and honest and made me feel comfortable about everything.”

Before undergoing surgery, Dr. Stockton recommended Mitchel participate in Presurgery Planning – a program which helps prepare patients for surgery, with a focus on reducing complications during surgery and improving recovery after surgery. During the program Mitchel learned about the importance of eating healthy, exercising, and preventing infections, among other topics.

“Presurgery Planning is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Mitchel. “It’s an amazing program. I was able to get healthier in just a week’s time before my surgery took place.”

The following week Mitchel was admitted to Lakeland Medical Center where he underwent surgery to remove the diseased kidney. Not only did he value the care he received from his surgeon, the entire surgical team made his stay “fantastic.”

“Everyone from the pre-operative team to the nurses and doctors were just fantastic,” said Mitchel. “Dr. Stockton has such a big heart – he is the most caring doctor I’ve ever met in my life.”

The day after his procedure, Mitchel was able to return home to continue healing. Although he was left with slight pain from the incision site, his blood pressure had returned to normal and he no longer experienced pain in his back. As a carpenter, he looks forward to eventually returning to the job site pain-free.

“I’m a very lucky man – I feel like I got a second chance at life,” said Mitchel. “No one has ever been able to figure out what was causing my back pain. I would recommend Lakeland and the da Vinci robot to anyone.”


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