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A Powerful Microcosm

December 21, 2022

HSC surgeon shines a light on the potential of Operation Excellence

Dr. Biniam Kidane, Thoracic Surgeon, HSC Winnipeg

I will never forget December 17, 2019. The Wilf Taillieu Thoracic Surgery Clinic and Endoscopy Unit—which was funded by HSC Foundation donors—had been open for only a few months.

On that day, we performed Manitoba’s first fully outpatient endoscopic submucosal resection of esophageal cancer. We did this with no incisions and completely removed a large and deep cancer through the mouth. The patient went home in 12 hours, had no pain, and was back to regular activities the next day. We were also able to fast-track the patient’s pre-operative tests which allowed the procedure to be scheduled quickly.

We were able to accomplish this in our clinic by using new, state-of-the art, minimally invasive technology. Without this equipment, it would have taken twice as long to do the pre-operative tests, and the cancer removal would have required major surgery—cuts into the chest and abdomen, more pain, more risk, a hospital stay of up to 21 days, and a longer, more painful recovery at home.

The Taillieu Clinic is an important example—a powerful microcosm—of what is possible through Operation Excellence. As we embrace more minimally invasive surgeries throughout the hospital, we will undoubtedly see the same type of outcomes as we are seeing in the Wilf Taillieu Thoracic Surgery Clinic and Endoscopy Unit. It is tomorrow’s health care, today. And we will get there with your support.

While much of my work as a thoracic surgeon involves cancer, there are other complex and life-altering conditions that my colleagues and I treat. I recently had a 90-year-old patient suffering from Zenker’s diverticulum. Zenker’s is a condition where a pouch forms in the patient’s esophagus and food gets trapped. The patient can’t eat or drink normally and quality of life is seriously affected. In the past, resolving this would require open neck surgery and a long, painful recovery. And for a 90-year-old, the surgical risks would have been much too high.

So, we used a minimally invasive procedure called a Z-POEM. With our new equipment, we were able to see our work on a high-definition monitor. No cuts, no general anesthetic, and the patient went home 12 hours later. In a matter of days, the patient was enjoying a family barbecue.

What we’re seeing in the Wilf Taillieu Thoracic Surgery Clinic and Endoscopy Unit is proof of concept. We know for a fact that the implementation of minimally invasive equipment throughout the hospital will save lives and improve recoveries. We also know that these technologies will free up operating rooms and beds, reduce diagnostic and surgical wait times, and create remarkable efficiencies throughout the health care system.

I am very excited to see Operation Excellence move forward for the benefit of all Manitobans.


By Dr. Biniam Kidane, Thoracic Surgeon, HSC Winnipeg

To learn more about Operation Excellence and to make your donation, visit