Fundraiser provides new equipment for Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh neonatal unit

Specsavers practices across Scotland have supported the installation of a PanoCam for examining children and premature babies

Michael O’Kane and Lady Sarra Hoy, lean in around the PanoCam device as Professor Ben Stenson, consultant neonatologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh performs an examination on O’Kane’s daughter Sophie, nine years old

The neonatal unit of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has received new equipment for imaging premature babies and children thanks to a £73,000 fundraiser by Specsavers practices in Scotland.

Teams donated to the Simpsons Special Care Babies charity to buy a PanoCam for the neonatal unit in the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The practices in Scotland also named Bliss Scotland, an organisation supporting babies born premature or sick and their families, as their charity of the year.

Staff at the unit are receiving training on the PanoCam, which can be used to examine premature babies, and to detect ocular tumours in older children.

Mercedes Perez-Botella, director of midwifery for NHS Lothian, thanked Specsavers and Simpsons Special Care babies for their fundraising support.

Commenting on the new equipment, she explained: “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.”

Specsavers practices across Scotland donated £2 from optical coherence tomography scans and earwax removals for a two-month period.

The device usually costs £113,000 but MED Surgical, supplier of the Visunex PanoCam Pro, contributed £40,000 to the fundraising target.

The fundraising effort was motivated by the personal experience of optometrist Michael O’Kane, practice director in Morningside and Cameron Toll.

O’Kane’s daughter, now nine years old, was born at 24 weeks weighing 1lb 15oz. He shared: “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,” he added.

Ambassador for Bliss Scotland, Lady Sarra Hoy, whose son Callum was born at 29 weeks in 2014, visited the neonatal unit along with O’Kane to see the new equipment.

Hoy suggested the installation of the new device, as well as the support offered by Bliss, would “make such a difference to babies and their families.”

Image: Michael O’Kane, optometrist and practice director at Specsavers Morningside and Cameron Toll, his daughter Sophie, Bliss Scotland ambassador, Lady Sarra Hoy, and Professor Ben Stenson, consultant neonatologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.