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Mercury Customers To Help Young Heart Patients

18 May 2005

Mercury Energy Customers To Help Young Heart Patients

Dr Tom Gentles demonstrates the 4D Echocardiography system on young Niko Danielsen who is held by his mum Sue

More than 1,000 young heart patients each year will benefit from a new machine to be purchased for the Starship Heart Unit using funds raised by Mercury Energy's Star Supporters Club.

The Star Supporters Club, which enables Mercury Energy customers to donate a monthly amount to Starship through their Mercury Energy bills, has announced its new goal of raising funds to help purchase a new $398,000 Echocardiography System.

The new Echocardiography System will be the first in the country capable of providing 4D images of the heart, making diagnosis and treatment of serious heart conditions much quicker and more accurate.

Dr Tom Gentles, Starship Clinical Director of Paediatric Cardiology, says the new Echocardiography System represents one of the biggest advancements in medical imaging in more than 10 years. "The new machine is light years ahead of the systems we currently use that are only capable of 2D images of a lesser quality."

News of the new system has thrilled, Auckland mum and Star Supporters Club member, Sue Danielsen whose son Niko was born with three life threatening heart conditions. A scan just 21 weeks into Sue's pregnancy showed Niko had a hole in his heart, crossed arteries and a narrowed aorta.

At birth Niko was immediately placed in intensive care and one week later underwent open heart surgery.

Following nine hours of surgery Niko's heart wouldn't restart properly and he was put on an ECMO machine that would do the job of his heart and lungs.

The following day the Danielsens were struck another blow when Niko developed a blood clot and required further surgery to remove it.

"That was one of the hardest times of my life. We're just lucky Niko is such a fighter and that he was in such good hands at Starship," Sue says.
Now a bouncy one year old Niko will continue to have check ups at the Starship Heart Unit where the new Echocardiography System will be used to check the movement of his heart muscle.

Dr Gentles says the new Echocardiography System will really make a difference to patients like Niko. "The system produces high quality 4D images which mean surgery can be more precise and surgeons are less likely to come across unexpected issues when operating. This reduces the risks and improves the chances of things working out well for the child."

The new system will also provide doctors with a better understanding of a patient's heart muscle movement allowing them to diagnose and treat any heart weakness at an early stage. "Heart weakness is a major issue for children who have had surgery for serious heart conditions. If diagnosed early, simple treatments can be used and more serious deterioration that might require a heart transplant may be avoided," Dr Gentles says.

The Starship Heart Unit currently conducts around 3,000 Echocardiograms per year using four less advanced machines.

I'm grateful that Mercury Energy and the Star Supporters Club have got behind the Starship Heart Unit to help us provide the best care for our country's youngest heart patients," Dr Gentles says.

The Echocardiography System will be the second machine purchased by the Star Supporters Club with the presentation of a Mobile Image Intensifier, used in orthopaedic surgery, being made to the hospital today.

Mark Carter, Mercury Energy's General Manager Consumer Markets, says the company is proud to support Starship in its important work. "We started the Star Supporters Club to make it easy for our customers to join us in supporting the hospital," he says. "Together with our customers we can make a big difference to the thousands of children that visit Starship each year."


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