Through a mammoth collective fundraising effort spanning 3 years, The Blouberg Rotary Club, raised R3 Million to buy the latest Bronchoscope with a Miniature Radial Ultrasound probe for the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. Funds were donated by local and global Rotary networks as well as a donation from the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust. This is the first such equipment in South Africa and the only one in Africa!

At the official handover ceremony at the Hospital on Thursday 23rd January, Prof Pierre Goussard, Tygerberg Children’s Hospital Clinical Paediatric Pulmonologist, explained that in the past, surgery had to be performed by opening the chest to get samples and biopsies to detect any abnormalities in the airways of children.  This technology donated by the Blouberg Rotary Club is unique, as it now gives doctors the opportunity to go down the airway to get samples by using a 2mm needle. This procedure will be used on Children of 3 months to 12 years old and will be less invasive.  The Paediatric Bronchoscope will be used in children suffering from Tuberculosis as well as many other childhood diseases including HIV-related lung disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Congenital Lung Abnormalities and complicated Pneumonia cases. It is a vital tool in the management of these lung diseases as it is used to ‘see’ and diagnose a problem without invasive surgery.   The Paediatric Bronchoscope gives the Paediatric Pulmonologist the opportunity to visualise the pathology in the airways of the child, collect specimens for diagnosis and even intervene to re-establish a compromised airway in a child.

In addition to children, the new equipment will also be used to treat adults and will particularly be effective in the treatment of drug-resistant TB and will allow doctors to make better diagnoses.

The Rotary Club of Blouberg adopted the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital TB & Neurological Ward, 20 years ago. Over this span of time they have donated a number of much needed items to the ward, painted the door frames and doors of Ward G9 with pastel colours, hung mobiles above the babies cots, framed paintings done by primary school children which were hung in the passages. They have previously fundraised and donated an oxygen monitoring machine as well as an AOE hearing machine, a brain probe and endoscopes for the TB ward. The Rotary Club also runs a soup kitchen twice a week in outpatients, with the help of Tygerberg Meals on Wheels and regularly visit the hospital with soft toys for the sick children.

Helène Visser, member of the Blouberg Rotary Club (RC), invited Randell Barclay of the Wallingford Vermont Rotary Club in the USA, to be our International Partner.  Randell in turn invited 12 clubs in his Rotary District 7870 to contribute as well as 4 Rotarians. Goodwood RC, Tygerberg RC, Signal Hill RC, Claremont RC, Rotary District 9350 (Cape Town) were local partners in this project.  Ms Visser also invited Dr Betty Walker, member of Los Angeles RC and the Peace Facilitator for Rotary District 5280, as well as her husband Prof Hal Walker to also become a major partner.  Other contributors were Rotary Clubs in Austria;  Canada;  Germany;  the UK;  Hawaii, USA;  Japan and Bulgaria.

Thanks to this international networking Blouberg Rotary were then able to apply for to Rotary International for a Global Grant which meant that the organisation matched the funding from the other Rotary clubs and Rotary Districts. With the help of a Japanese Rotarian, Dr Yukari Kurita, a 10% discount was received from Olympus and Surgical Innovation, the suppliers of this specialised equipment.

The Tygerberg Children’s Hospital admits approximately 44,000 newborn babies and children per annum, of which 6100 require highly specialized paediatric care that is delivered by Paediatricians trained in their specific fields, e.g. Pulmonology, Cardiology, Neurology, Oncology and Ontology.  In the highly specialized field of Paediatric Pulmonology, more than 1,500 children with complicated lung diseases are admitted annually who need surgery to correct the underlying procedures and a further 2,000 children are treated as outpatients. Complicated Lung TB in children is so common that the Paediatric Pulmonologists at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital have developed their skills in diagnosing and managing childhood TB to such a degree that both Prof Ronald van Toorn and Prof Pierre Goussard are regarded by their national and international peers as the leaders in the field of complicated childhood Tuberculosis.

Tygerberg Hospital draws patients from across the country as well as from neighbouring countries. Their Africa Fellowship program trains medical professionals from across the continent. The Rotary Club of Blouberg and their National and International Rotary partners will now embark on another Rotary Global Grant application to bring doctors from the African Continent to Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, to be trained in the use of the Bronchoscope.