Donation: £8,000 Haemodialfiltration Unit Donated to R.H.S.C. Yorkhill Hospital
* from an article in the Evening Times
Machine Will Help Save Scots Children’s Lives
By KATRlNA TWEEDlE
The death of a gentle giant has given pioneering medics in Glasgow a new weapon in their fight against the meningitis virus.
A machine used to treat kidney failure has been found to stop meningitis in its tracks, but doctors who made the breakthrough discovery at Yorkhill Hospital, still don’t know WHY?
All they know is that it works and for some of Scotland’s heartbroken families struggling to come to terms with the death of a child, that Is more than enough.
An £8000 haemo-diafiltration unit has just been presented to Yorkhill Hospital. And for Eileen and Hugh McKiernan, who still have the day their son Lee died etched firmly in their minds, giving this life-saving machine is just another step in helping them to come to terms with their grieving.
“It was October the 11th. 1990. Lee was only 17 years old with the rest of his life ahead of him. He was 6ft 2in and built like a tank and we used to joke with him that germs would be too scared to touch him. Little did we know how swiftly and efficiently meningitis can kill you,” explains Eileen.
After Lee's death Eileen set up the Meningitis Association of Scotland and when Dr Crispin Best, a consultant in Yorkhill’s paediatric ward stumbled upon the treatment, Eileen went into overdrive to raise enough money to buy the meningitis team their own unit.
Four young patients have already been saved with this device - which basically cleans deadly toxins from a patient’s blood before returning it to the body.
Without this three of the four youngsters may have died.
But until now Dr Best has bad to borrow the unit from other wards throughout the hospItal to treat his patients.
The latest figures show there were 201 cases of meningitis in Scotland in 1994. but
only a handful developed into the particularly dangerous meningococcal septicaemia - a form of blood poisoning.
Now Dr Best and his team are about to undertake a research project into their treatment.
Dr Best said: “People could be dying without a machine like this. We’re convinced that it works but we need evidence showing why and that could take years of work.”
Eileen added: “Meningitis is something people really don’t really think about. If people knew what to look out for it could mean the difference between coming out of the hospital alive or coming out in a coffin. And if this machine helps save even one life then our struggle to raise cash for the cause has been worth it.”
* Signs to look out for in meningitis are vomiting, fever, severe headache, stiff neck, eye discomfort from bright light, rash and, in babies, refusing food and high-pitched moaning.
The £8,000 unit with (front, from left), Staff Nurse Hazel Cranston, Staff Nurse Karen Higgins, Lee’s mum Eileen, Sister Rhoda Calder, and (back) Doctors Crispin Best and Jim Beattie. Inset is Lee.