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New heart scanner to help children with heart problems

Doctors in Southampton will be able to better diagnose children with heart problems thanks to a charity appeal led by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Southampton Hospital Charity.

The appeal, which was launched in January 2015, has successfully raised the £49,000 needed to fund a new, state of the art, scanner. The new machine was officially unveiled at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) today. 

The scanner uses sound waves to create detailed images which allow doctors to see the pumping action of the heart and the condition of its valves. It is similar to the ultrasound scan used in pregnancy.

Dr Kevin Roman, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist, comments:  “We have been amazed by the support of our patients and the local community, coming together to help us raise enough money for the CX40 ultrasound scanner.

The new scanner, which is about the size of a laptop, is designed to be portable and is easier to operate. The hospital’s previous scanner was large and bulky and could not be moved easily, meaning there was sometimes delays in diagnosis. 

There are so many benefits of the new equipment. The fact it is portable means we can take it to our cancer care wards for immunosupressed children so they can remain in an environment optimal to their condition. 

There is an increased demand for bedside treatment and diagnostic services at peripheral Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). An aim of the paediatric team here at UHS is to provide advanced life saving techniques at NICU bedsides across the region for those babies who are critically ill, and unlikely to survive transfer to UHS. This machine means we can travel to other regions so our paediatric cardiologists can offer other sick babies in other hospitals a better chance of survival.

While the machine will mainly be used with our paediatric patients, as we are now a major trauma centre, we are seeing increased numbers of trauma cases and patients of all ages on the edge of survival. This CX50 ultrasound scanner can be carried quickly to the Emergency Department, aiding faster diagnosis and increased survival chances.”

Neil Jarrett, Fundraising Manager at the BHF, said: “Every day, around 12 babies are born with a heart defect in the UK. These can affect, and in the most serious cases, threaten a child’s life. 

“Being able to diagnose any problems with the heart quickly and accurately means that doctors can make sure these children get the right treatment when they need it. 

“That’s why we’d like to thank everyone who’s donated to this appeal. Because of their generosity babies and children will have a better start in life.”

Every year, over 4,000 babies are born with a heart defect in the UK. In the 1950s around eight out of ten babies with a complex congenital heart condition died before their first birthday. Today, thanks to advances in treatment and care more than eight out of ten babies with congenital heart disease grow up to be adults.

Suzie Simmons, Fundraising Manager at Southampton Hospital Charity, said: “We are thrilled to have raised enough money to buy this machine in such a short time.

We want to say a special thank you to the Beatty family, linked to our Lahna Fund, who donated £10,000 towards this scanner. Natasha and Lance’s first child, Lahna, sadly passed away, so they have been working hard to raise money for the children’s services within Southampton General Hospital.

This piece of kit will be a lasting memory to Lahna and will help us to speed up diagnosis of other children within the area with cardiac issues. We also want to say a big thank you to everyone else who donated to this project, allowing us to buy the scanner.”

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