Last year I was introduced to a father who told me about how his daughter had spent months and months in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London being treated for a rare cancer. We were exchanging stories about our experiences with our respective children in hospital and then went on to discuss the work of Thinking of Oscar. When I mentioned the Vein Finders that we were in the process of putting into the Oxford Children’s hospital and how they would have been such a help for Oscar with his blood tests and cannulations this other dad told me how he had never heard of the technology and how his daughter had had hundreds of procedures and that the AccuVein would have made such a difference to her.
Last week I visited Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for the first time. It is currently undergoing a £300M redevelopment, helping to retain it’s spot as one of the top 2 children’s hospitals in the world alongside the Boston Children’s Hospital. I was met by two lovely ladies from the GOSH Charity and then introduced to some doctors and a staff nurse who had heard about the vein finders and were keen to get them into GOSH. In fact I found out that they did have one, however it could only be used by 2 doctors in the whole hospital and they were in desperate need of another. They have employed a “2 strikes and you are out” policy in the hospital, meaning that you get 2 attempts to get it right with a child and then you have to call one of these 2 specialist doctors in. With over 250,000 children passing through the gates of GOSH every year, from all corners of the globe, they are expected to be the best and have the best and largely they are. We discussed the benefits of the technology, how the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital in Oxford had found them to be vital, not only to help the children but also to ease the fears of both parents and doctors.
I was then shown round the children’s cardiac ward where they would like our donation to be housed. The ward sister treated me like a VIP, explaining the facilities that they had and the impact that the vein finder could have to so many children. Sometimes babies who are a matter of just a few hours old would be transferred from the maternity unit in the nearby UCL hospital to the high dependency unit on the cardiac ward at GOSH. She explained how finding veins in these very tiny babies could be so difficult and how Thinking of Oscar could make a difference through the provision of a vein finder device.
We hope to make the donation of another Accuvein Vein Finder to GOSH asap. We thought long and hard about making this investment and talked it through with our trustees. Our perception had been that so many people would already be fundraising specifically for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital but in fact the funds that they have are already allocated to vital research or improvements to facilities. This is why Thinking of Oscar’s contribution will make such an important and immediate difference. Thinking of Oscar has been set up to help children and their families whilst in hospital care and we look to fund innovation and improvements over and above what the NHS can provide. Although we continue to be supported by our local community, we are also so grateful for the support that we are receiving from further afield. We have realised that children who require specialist care will sometimes need to go to the likes of GOSH (rather than stay at the local hospital) and so we want to make sure that we can help as many children and families as possible, wherever they are. Our ambition is big. Eventually we want to be able to say that Oscar’s legacy has helped not only to make children’s experiences better whilst in hospital care but that lives have been saved too.