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CB20: On the delivery trail

17 May 2009
The Carte Blanche birthday campaign has done it again, this time delivering on its promises to a Pretoria state hospital. Steve Biko Academic Hospital now has a much needed haemodialysis machine for children with renal problems, a cardiac ultrasound system and much, much more. Carte Blanche reports back on how deliveries have improved lives.
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Nine months ago Princess, a patient at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital paediatrics renal department was treated for severe fluid overload. Because the hospital didn't have a haemodialysis machine, doctors used an out-dated manual process of dialysis. Though treatment was administered, it was labour intensive and time consuming.

Sister Minaar explains.

Sister Minaar (Paediatric Renal Department): "I've just done a manual peritoneal dialysis procedure. Hers was done to take off excessive water from the patient because she was severely overloaded by 8kg of volume."

Manual dialysis requires being administered several times a day.

Sister Minaar: "We do it at 6 o'clock, 9 o'clock, 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock. In the evening again, 9 o'clock, 12 o'clock; we skip 3 o'clock and then again 6 o'clock. So it's about eight times a day."

But that was August last year, just as the Carte Blanche "Making a Difference" campaign was launched and we began raising funds to fulfill wish lists of hospitals from around the country.

Xstrata's generous contribution of R1-million's worth in equipment can already be seen in use. And it's the cardiac ultrasound valued at R786 000 which has the paediatric department's pulse racing.

Dr Lindy Mitchell (Cardiologist): "Because I can see everything inside the heart... and it just makes the diagnosis and the follow-up with these children routine' instead of fumbling around in the dark."

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Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "What would your work be like without this machine?"

Dr Mitchell:"Well, it would literally be like operating blind. This is literally like having X-ray vision. I can see everything in the heart; I can assess what it looks like, how it's working or not working (and) the heart's function - it literally is magic."

Eric Ratshikhopha (Xstrata): "What we thought would maybe take much longer... it took only 10 months and it's not usual that the turn-around is as fast as it was. Really, we're very happy. It makes us very comfortable to see there are people out there who can deliver on their word."

Also delivered was a R72 000 carbon dioxide monitor which eliminates invasive procedures.

Eric Ratshikhopha (Xstrata): "When the processor explained that it was no longer necessary to prick kids to get the blood and all that. One of the machines we donated shows automatically whatever they wanted to see without having to prick the kids. That really touched me."

And seven easy chairs for comfort in the ICU ward, all valued at R43 000, make up the rest of Xstrata's donation.

Bongani: "Steve Biko Academic Hospital has never had a dialysis machine for children and the list here of patients who could possibly face renal failure is a mile long."

But thanks to the campaign this has now changed...

Prof Robin Green (HOD Paediatrics): "This is the machine that is able to dialyse children who are in renal failure - both acute and chronic. And this is a machine that really saves lives!"

R300 000 from INCE made this donation possible. Roelf du Plooy cut the ribbon at the hand over.

Roelf du Plooy (INCE): "Improving health care in South Africa - what's really required is that corporate South Africa, as well as the government, probably need to work together. I think Carte Blanche initiated that through this scheme and lots of kids will benefit through this in future. So we're very happy that our small donation that we could make could actually make such a huge a difference to so many people's lives."

And benefiting from the new haemodialysis machine is 9-year-old Kamogelo who has severe kidney problems.

At an official handover the generosity of donors - LG, Xstrata, INCE, Standard Bank, Virgin Money, Pinky Moholi - saw to it that every item on the hospital's wish list was met and delivered. Their total contribution was R1.7-million in medical equipment to the hospital.

Koo Govender (Communications Director M-Net): "I just wanted to say on behalf of M-Net and Carte Blanche, thank you so much. These machines will definitely save lives and make a difference to the children of our future."

Professor Robin Green heads up paediatrics at Steve Biko Academic.

Prof Green: "I never believed that you were going to raise R20-million, let alone 60-million and I think that's fantastic. People have come to the party... people have gone beyond themselves to be able to help us."

Monitoring blood pressure with precision was made possible by the delivery of these mobile BP machines.

Hypertension in children with renal complications is more often the cause of death than the kidney disease itself.

The purchase of the machines was made possible by a personal donation from Pinky Moholi of R50 000.

Pinky Moholi (Private donor): "I have been touched by illness in my life. Thirty years ago I lost my father to complications of hypertension and therefore to donate two BP machines to save lives of young children touched my heart and I thought, I need to do something.'"

The paediatric ICU has never had an electrocardiograph machine until our birthday campaign. Thanks to Virgin Money's R50 000, staff can record heart activity and in this patient's case, monitor concerns for heart arrhythmia.

Vinay Padayachee (Virgin Money): "It's just such an impact to see it in use..."

Prof Green: "This child was admitted with a head injury, but now of course we're concerned about an arrhythmia and that's why we need this ECG machine. And we never had one of these in our ICU before, so you've really contributed enormously to our service. So thank you very much."

A portion of Standard Bank's contribution went to diagnosis of asthma, which is perfectly measurable but easily missed if not detected accurately.

Prof Green: "This gives us a good indication of asthma control. It's a very sophisticated piece of machinery: very small, very expensive, nice new technology. All they have to do is blow and it tells us about inflammation instantaneously."

Bongani: "What kind of impact does a machine like this have?"

Prof Green: "That's exactly the issue with asthma management today. The issue now is quality of life, and we've shown in studies from this country that very few asthmatics are actually well controlled. And part of the reason is in children that we've not been able to measure control. This allows asthmatic children to run and play."

And thanks to this handy little device, Pulane's results showed that even though she was feeling better, her asthma was still not under control.

Dr Refiloe Masekela (Paediatric Pulmonologist): "If you look here... her nitric oxide level is 35 parts per billion. The normal population [is] expected to be anything for a child of her age between 10 and around 20. A maximum of 25 is acceptable. So for her, you can still see she has a significant inflammation in the lungs. "

Bongani: "So, in fact, this is crucial to help Pulane in any treatment"

Dr Masekela: "Yes, absolutely. This will also help us in treatment decisions to decide whether we have to step up her medication."

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Tina Eboka (Standard Bank): "If you look at a little machine like this - forget how expensive it is, but you realise what a big difference it makes, and how it improves somebody's life. And it is all about making a real difference."

At R270 000 the Nio Oxide monitor is just a fraction of Standard Bank's grant to our entire campaign.

Bongani: "Most of the equipment delivered here are basic things that time has aged or have been damaged. Lack of funding has meant they were never fixed or replaced. But it has all come together to make sure the delivery of healthcare is more effective. And for babies like this one - every little bit counts."

Electronics giant, LG, opened their hearts and made all the difference with their donation too.

Dr Michelle Potgieter (LG Electronics): "Some of these mothers stay up to four months in these paediatric units with the little ones. And research has shown that - the hospitals have shared this research with us - that the mothers feel quite a sense of boredom when they are here. They can't take care of the baby all day, they sometimes want to sleep. Then they can at least watch a little bit of television and get a sense of entertainment and education."

Bongani: "What is your donation to this hospital?"

Michelle: "To this specific hospital we have donated 15 TV sets, which will be used in all the various paediatric units. On a countrywide basis we have delivered just under 100 TVs across the five government hospitals which are involved in the Carte Blanche project."

Our sincere thanks to all sponsors who helped us realise the wish list of Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Producer : Ashleigh Hamilton
Presenter : Bongani Bingwa