‘Sheffield Children’s Hospital was not a job for Jane, it was a life passion’

Jane Dalley and daughter Isobel.
Jane Dalley and daughter Isobel.

The family of a former Sheffield Children’s Hospital scientist who died last November have seen her wish come true after a new £200,000 state-of-the-art machine was opened in her memory.

Former lead clinical scientist, Dr Jane Dalley, launched a Children’s Hospital Charity appeal for a Vitamin D deficiency diagnosing tandem mass spectrometer in April 2017.

Janes mother,  Anne Dalley, her father, Jim Dalley, husband, Jon Marsh, her daughters Isobel and Elsbeth and her brother, Kevin Dalley.

Janes mother, Anne Dalley, her father, Jim Dalley, husband, Jon Marsh, her daughters Isobel and Elsbeth and her brother, Kevin Dalley.

Tragically, Jane passed away aged just 43 after a short battle with acute myeloid leukaemia before the fundraising for the equipment had finished.

Last week, Jane’s husband Jon Marsh and their two girls - one-year-old Elsbeth and six-year-old Isobel - who live in Crosspool, attended a special launch event for the equipment.

Isobel cut the ribbon to unveil the new equipment in honour of her mum which has been lovingly named ‘Sonny’ on Jane’s request - and the six-year-old wore the ribbon in her hair for the rest of the day.

Jane’s husband Jon said: “Sheffield Children’s Hospital was not a job for Jane it was a life passion second only to her girls with her husband coming in a close third!

Jon and Isobel open the machine.

Jon and Isobel open the machine.

“It’s difficult if not impossible to imagine a more fitting tribute to Jane than Sonny and we could not be more proud of her, not only will it perform the vital role of helping to diagnose and manage childhood disease but it will also encourage her girls to love whatever they do and put their all into it just like their mum.”

With Vitamin D testing increasing by up to 15 per cent every year, the new machine will ensure the hospital can provide a service to all 135,000 children in the city.

The hospital’s world-leading chemical laboratory will now be able to better diagnose the deficiency, which can cause a wide range of serious health problems in children.

Early identification can prevent conditions like rickets going undiagnosed, preventing the potential for lifelong disability and musculoskeletal problems.

'Sonny', the Vitamin D deficiency diagnosing tandem mass spectrometer.

'Sonny', the Vitamin D deficiency diagnosing tandem mass spectrometer.

But as well as problems with bone health, the kit will help the hospital diagnose dermatological conditions, allergies, gastroenterological health, cardiac disorders and even mental health issues.

Previously, up to 5,000 tests were sent away for analysis to other hospitals because the team lacked the necessary equipment to perform the test in house.

But thanks to the machine - which was funded entirely by The Children’s Hospital Charity - patients can now expect shorter time while awaiting their results and faster access to the treatment they need.

Camilla Scott, head of clinical chemistry at Sheffield Children’s Hospital said: “This new machine will be a legacy to a much loved and dedicated colleague and will allow us to undertake important analysis for the children of Sheffield and South Yorkshire and help diagnose and manage children with metabolic bone disease.”

Hundreds of runners, cyclists and swimmers helped fundraise for The Children’s Hospital Charity’s campaign for the new equipment.

The proceeds from the charity’s Christmas snowflake appeal in 2017 also helped raise the £200,000 needed to purchase the machine.

The Children’s Hospital Charity director, David Vernon-Edwards said: “Ensuring the Vitamin D Analyser was funded became even more poignant for us when Jane passed away as she was the driving-force behind the campaign from the beginning.”

“Thanks to Jane’s perseverance and the generosity of our supporters, ‘Sonny’ will provide a lasting legacy that will prevent a wide range of serious health problems and further enhance our specialist chemistry laboratory for years to come.”

For more information, visit www.tchc.org.uk.