Figure Skating

Maia Shibutani recovering after surgery on kidney tumour

Ice dancer admits post-op pain has been "worse than I anticipated" but thanked fans for their support on Instagram

By Rory Jiwani ·

Olympic figure skating medallist Maia Shibutani has left hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a kidney tumour.

The 25-year-old ice dancer, who won bronze at PyeongChang 2018 with elder brother Alex, revealed on Instagram that she was discharged on Tuesday afternoon three days after the operation.

Shibutani thanked her followers for their "love and positivity" and said, "Unfortunately, the pain post-surgery has been worse than I anticipated. I’ve had my fair share of injuries in skating and I’m used to muscle and bone stuff, but this is different.

"It was explained to me that since I am young and in good shape, my muscles and nerves are really sensitive. Walking and making even smaller body movements is currently very painful and extremely challenging.

"It’s been tough to not feel discouraged and weak, but focusing on gratitude has really helped. My parents are with me and Alex was able to support me through those difficult first steps. I’m grateful for all of the messages of encouragement - I feel very cared for and supported.

"This recovery will take time and I’m still waiting on news, but I’m determined to come back stronger."

The events leading up to Shibutani's tumour discovery

On Sunday, Shibutani posted a photo of her in a hospital bed after her operation.

She detailed how doctors had spotted an abnormality in October after she went to hospital with what turned out to be a stomach virus.

They advised a follow-up examination and, last week, an MRI scan in Los Angeles showed a "small mass" on her kidney which Shibutani said was "incredibly shocking and difficult to handle".

She added, "I’ve been so scared, but I have had the full support of my family, doctors, and nurses."

The operation to remove the tumour was a success meaning she was able to keep the rest of her kidney.

The American is still waiting to find out whether the growth was malignant (cancerous) or benign with doctors saying it was 60% likely to be the former.

"I am young, healthy, and feel fortunate that this was detected so early. I am going to try and stay positive and focus on my recovery."

Just four weeks ago, Olympic Channel caught up with the 'Shib Sibs' at the Team USA awards.

The duo have not competed since PyeongChang and announced in May that they would sit out the whole of the 2019-20 season.

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