Cutting-edge equipment for examining premature and sick babies has been installed at an Edinburgh hospital after a campaign raised more than £73,000.
A PanoCam, which makes it quicker and safer to examine babies, has been purchased for the neonatal unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after SpecSavers stores drummed up cash for the device across Scotland.
Premature babies are at high risk of retinopathy which can cause blindness; they need their eyes checked regularly due to rapid changes in organ development, in what would have been the last three months of pregnancy, which can put them under a lot of stress.
The PanoCam is now in place in the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the hospital.
Teams from across the business raised the money after being moved by the story of colleague Michael O’Kane whose daughter Sophie, now nine, was born at 24 weeks weighing just 1lb 15oz.
Michael O’Kane, a Specsavers optician and store director in Morningside and Cameron Toll, said: “There were times when I feared Sophie wouldn’t pull through but she recovered thanks to incredible support from the neonatal unit, and I will forever be grateful.
“This fundraiser is testament to what can be achieved when you club together to make a difference, and myself and all my colleagues across Scotland feel immensely proud to have helped bring this equipment to the hospital.”
The funds to purchase the equipment were raised by stores which donated £2 from optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans and from earwax removals during a two-month period.
The opticians also backed Bliss Scotland as their Charity of the Year to further support Scotland’s premature babies and their families.
The charity’s ambassador Lady Sarra Hoy, whose son Callum was born at 29 weeks back in 2014, joined Michael at the Royal Infirmary to see the equipment in action.
Lady Sarra Hoy said: “As a parent on the neonatal unit, it’s so frightening to see your baby undergo lots of invasive procedures which can be really stressful for them when they’re so tiny.
“This equipment – together with the support that Bliss are providing to families thanks to Specsavers’ incredible fundraising – will make such a difference to babies and their families.”
Staff at the unit are currently being trained in using the PanoCam which, as well as being used to examine premature babies, can also be used to detect ocular tumours in older children.
Mercedes Perez-Botella, directory of midwifery at NHS Lothian, said: “We are delighted that the PanoCam will soon be operational at the Simpson Centre.
“Retinopathy is a prevalent problem for babies who are born prematurely, and we hope that this new equipment will help our neonatal doctors to promptly identify any deterioration in the baby’s retina and act accordingly to prevent damage.
“I am sure parents will also welcome this addition to our resources as it will provide them with extra reassurance about the high level of care their babies will get while in the neonatal unit.
“We would like to sincerely thank Specsavers and Simpsons Special Care Babies for fundraising for this new equipment, we know that this will make a real difference to families within the neonatal unit.”