Big iMRI Appeal: Intra-operative MRI scanner unveiled after charity appeal

A new £2.9 million intra-operative MRI scanner has been officially unveiled at the Queen’s Medical Centre during a virtual opening for patients, staff and charity donors.

The machine was funded after charity appeals run by Nottingham Hospitals Charity and the University of Nottingham, and will transform the treatment of young brain tumour patients from across the East Midlands.

The Big iMRI Appeal, part of Nottingham Hospitals Charity’s Big Appeal, was launched in March 2018, to help fund the state-of-the-art MRI machine for use by brain surgeons at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

Thanks to generous donations from businesses, organisations and individuals across the local community, the appeal raised a total of £1.6 million in 18 months, with the university donating a further £1.3 million from their own fundraising campaign, including a donation of £750,000 from Children with Cancer UK.

The new intra-operative MRI (iMRI) machine was delivered in October and, after installation and testing, it was officially unveiled on Wednesday 9 December, during a virtual launch event hosted by Nottingham Hospitals Charity and the University of Nottingham.

Nottingham Children’s Hospital is the leading regional centre for children’s neurosurgery, where over 1,000 MRI scans are carried out on children each year, including those with brain tumours.

The new iMRI scanner, which is housed in a new, purpose-built suite next to a surgical theatre, will be used during children’s brain tumour surgery to help surgeons accurately remove as much of their patients’ tumours as possible. It will also be used for general diagnostic purposes for patients from across the hospital.

After months of fundraising, it is a real pleasure to see the new intra-operative MRI machine up and running. The difference it will make to young patients lives is indescribable and it has the real potential to not only improve the results of surgery, but to also reduce the number of times a child has to have surgery. It will also give fresh hope and reassurance to their families in terms of the trauma they all have to go through during treatment. ”

Professor John Atherton, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, said: “After months of fundraising, it is a real pleasure to see the new intra-operative MRI machine up and running. The difference it will make to young patients lives is indescribable and it has the real potential to not only improve the results of surgery, but to also reduce the number of times a child has to have surgery. It will also give fresh hope and reassurance to their families in terms of the trauma they all have to go through during treatment. “

Donald Macarthur, Paediatric Neurosurgeon at the Nottingham Children’s Hospital, explained: “We’re delighted to be able to officially unveil this fantastic new facility, which will make a huge difference to surgeons, patients and families. Being able to scan patients during surgery, while they are still under general anaesthetic, means we will be able to see any small pieces of tumour that may be remaining, and remove them while still in the operating theatre.

“This will reduce the likelihood of patients needing further surgery, as well as reducing the anxiety and stress for parents and carers who currently have to wait for post-operative scans to determine whether further surgery is needed. It really will transform the treatment that we are able to offer our young brain tumour patients from across the region.”

The news of the scanner’s unveiling was welcomed by the families of young patients being treated for brain tumours at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

The new intra-operative MRI (iMRI) machine

Three-year-old Oliver was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just five months old. He was admitted to Nottingham Children’s Hospital in January 2018 after doctors discovered a large tumour, taking up almost half the left-hand side of his brain. Oliver has since undergone three operations on his brain, plus chemotherapy to further shrink the tumour.

Dad Ashley Swift, whose family also fundraised for the Big iMRI Appeal, said: “We’re so pleased that the scanner has arrived and is now officially in use, it will make such a big difference to families like ours. Oliver has so far undergone three lots of brain surgery, and the 24-hour wait afterwards for a scan to find out how successful the surgery has been can feel like a lifetime. For surgeons to be able to see, there and then in the operating theatre, whether they have removed the whole tumour, and to be able to immediately go back in and remove anything left over rather than having to wait for further surgery down the line, will be absolutely life-changing.”

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to help fund this important piece of machinery, which will make a real, tangible difference to patients and their families at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

“We’d like to thank everyone across the local community – from businesses and schools, to individuals and families – who have helped make this possible by raising money towards our Big iMRI Appeal. We’d especially like to thank the University of Nottingham, with whom we were pleased to partner on this project.”

Cliff O’Gorman, Acting Honorary CEO of Children with Cancer UK, said: “We were delighted to provide funding of £750,000 as part of the University of Nottingham’s fundraising campaign. The installation of the state-of-the-art, child-friendly iMRI scanning facilities will help to revolutionise treatment and boost survival rates for children being treated for brain tumours at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.”

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