VIDEO: Watch as life-saving scanner is launched thanks to 'Herd of Sheffield' fundraising appeal

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It was a novel idea.

Bosses at Sheffield Children's Hospital needed money to buy new life-saving equipment - and decided the best was to do this was to create a herd of elephant sculptures and sell them off to raise the much-needed funds.

The 'Herd of Sheffield' auction.

The 'Herd of Sheffield' auction.

But that unique burst of inspiration for the 'Herd of Sheffield' translated into hard cash and raised an astonishing £410, 600.

And now that money has enabled the purchase of a fluoroscopy machine, which specialists say will save children's lives - and prevent the need for amputations.

The unique piece of equipment was unveiled at the hospital earlier this evening and medical staff joined fundraisers and patients to watch the scanner in action.

David Vernon-Edwards, director of The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: "The reaction to the fundraising appeal was incredible.

(l-r) David Vernon-Edwards, charity director, Ella Sparham, Geanna Jessop, Jobi Fisher, nine months, Owen Fisher and auctioneer Lucy Crapper at the launch of the new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

(l-r) David Vernon-Edwards, charity director, Ella Sparham, Geanna Jessop, Jobi Fisher, nine months, Owen Fisher and auctioneer Lucy Crapper at the launch of the new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

"This piece of equipment will help to save lives.

"We are thrilled to have hit here working and treating patients so members of the public can see where their hard-earned cash has gone."

The machine works by passing an x-ray through a patients's body before the images are then projected onto a screen for medical staff to examine.

This enables specialists to watch moving images of the inside of the body - such as the pumping action of the heart - which helps to pin-point problems with blood flow.

The new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

The new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

This is particularly important for patients who have suffered a serious injury - such as severing an artery - and are losing blood fast.

Specialists can now make quicker diagnosis, improving the chances of saving the patient's life.

Loss of blood supply can also cause tissue to die, so faster diagnosis and treatment thanks to the machine will also improve the chances of savings limbs from amputation.

The multipurpose system can also aid diagnosis for areas including gastroenterology, urinary and bladder pressure, orthopaedics, replacement of complex feeding tubes, and emergency surgery.

Auctioneer Lucy Crapper, Ella Sparham and David Vernon-Edwards, charity director at the launch of the new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Auctioneer Lucy Crapper, Ella Sparham and David Vernon-Edwards, charity director at the launch of the new multipurpose fluoroscopy system at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

In addition, previously children who needed specialist imaging of blood vessels in the brain had to be transferred to adult hospitals, but the new machine will enable young patients to be scanned at the children's hospital.

Sara Elliot, head of radiology, said: "The machine lets us see veins and arteries, where as the previous machine did not.

"This means we can make a diagnosis much quicker as the image is clearer and more detailed.

"This is crucial for many patients with serious illnesses or injuries as time is of the essence."

One patient who has already benefited from the machine is 12-year-old Ella Sparham.

She has a condition which means her kidneys don't flush properly causing frequent infections, pain and discomfort.

But urologists using the fluoroscopy machine were able to show clearly for the first time in her life how fluids were not draining away properly.

Mum Claire, aged 34, of Scunthorpe, said: “We have a new treatment plan thanks to the scanner. I think it's brilliant, that was the first time in 12 years that we have been able to see what the problem is properly.

"It is an amazing piece of equipment."

Ella said: "It is a really big machine and in other hospitals the room is very white and a bit scary. But at the children's hospital there are bright colours on the walls so it takes your mind off it."

Meanwhile, Chapeltown youngster Jobi Fisher, aged nine months, was the first to use the scanner. He has a condition known as 'unsafe swallow' and his parents were amazed at being able to watch their son's scan in real time.

Mum Geanna Jessop, aged 28, said: "He has a problem with his swallowing where some of the fluid goes into his lungs as well as his stomach.

"Sometimes when it is explained to you it is a bit difficult to understand. But having seen the scan live on the screens it makes a lot more sense what they are saying."

Hospital bosses decided to launch a fundraising appeal last year after it became apparent that their current machine was more than a decade old and would soon be obsolete, with no further spare parts or engineer support available beyond 2016.

They came up with the 'Herd of Sheffield' idea, in which 58 uniquely designed elephant sculptures were placed around the city's parks and open spaces to create an interactive public art trail.

They were sold at a charity auction last year and the highest selling sculpture - which was modelled on the Arctic Monkey's AM album cover - sold for £16, 500 alone.

Lucy Crapper, who was the auctioneer for the Herd of Sheffield, said: "It is incredible how much it captured the imagination of the public. The auction night was thrilling because the bids were so high and we all knew it was for a fantastic cause."