Patients suffering from vascular birthmarks in the region and the rest of the country will benefit from a state of the art, dedicated ultrasound machine to treat birthmarks without the need for any surgery or scars.
The James Cook birthmark clinic led by plastic surgeon Mr Tobian Muir has performed 2,500 injection treatments to patients from all over the UK and as far afield as Sweden, Ireland and Bulgaria. The specialised treatment is provided by a team of highly skilled anaesthetic, radiology and paediatric clinicians working with Mr Muir.
The generous donation of the £21,000 ultrasound machine by the James Cook Voluntary Services will benefit the 120 new patients seen in the clinic every year as well as the patients currently receiving regular treatments.
For almost 35 years the dedicated volunteers, working in the coffee lounge and other areas at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, have been refreshing patients, carers and staff while reinvesting the proceeds into vital fundraising projects within the hospital.
During this time The James Cook Voluntary Services, led by Mrs Ann McCormack, has helped scores of projects with over £1.5m of proceeds from their wares – many of which are sourced from local suppliers.
Mr Muir said: “We are exceedingly grateful to Mrs McCormack and the many volunteers who give up their time for the benefit of patients. The brand new ultrasound machine will ensure safer and more effective treatment for the many patients that come to our unit; many with previously untreatable or complex birthmarks.”
Mrs McCormack added: “When Mr Muir approached us about how this piece of equipment would not only help so many patients, but enhance the reputation of South Tees internationally we knew it was a project we had to support. “The unit is already recognised as a centre of excellence for injection sclerotherapy and it is giving support to Great Ormond Street and other units to set up a similar service in the UK. We are proud to be able to help out such a worthy cause.”
Case study: Jack Thornton
Jack is four years old. He was born with a lymphatic malformation of his face. After a sudden dramatic swelling of the birthmark, he was treated with four bleomycin injections under general anaesthesia. He now shows a significant improvement and normalisation of his face.
The sprightly young boy from Newcastle is left with a small area of the birthmark that can be further improved with the improved view on the new machine to find the small abnormal birthmark vessels.
Jack’s mum Amy said; “Jack’s condition worsened when he was about 18 months old. At that point we were told that disfiguring facial surgery was our best option. The risks associated with the surgery option were frightening and we really felt that there was no one out there who truly understood Jack’s condition, until we met with Mr Muir at the birthmark clinic.
“His knowledge and manner reassured us fully and the treatment he carried out has been life-changing for Jack, as well as us. We can’t thank Mr Muir and his team enough.
Jack’s dad Anthony added: “We could not be happier with the success Mr Muir and his team had had with Jack. From walking through the door of the hospital, the staff have all been fantastic, making us feel they really cared.
“When we first looked at all of our options we were unaware that bleomycin treatment was available or even a consideration for Jack’s condition. After numerous appointments with a consultant in Newcastle’s RVI, the treatment was never brought to our attention. Through pure luck, via a family member, Mr Muir and his team were recommended to us and for that we are forever thankful.
“We only hope that we can help make more people aware of what the treatment can do and how successful it has been for us. We are very excited to hear about the new scanner that the team at James Cook have recently acquired. Although the results we have had to date have been better than we ever imagined, we are feeling really positive that the new machine could help reduce Jack’s condition further.”
The new ultrasound machine’s improved picture quality will allow Mr Muir’s team to try and further improve Jack’s birthmark.
The pictures below show Jack before and after his treatment.