You too can make a difference

If you’ve ever wondered how much your support can make a difference, read this wonderful letter we recently received…

Dear Humpty Dumpty Foundation,

I can’t thank you and your generous donors enough for the four Vscan Extend machines that have been donated this year. These handheld ultrasound / echo machines can be used to screen for rheumatic heart disease, a life-threatening problem affecting so many children in the Northern Territory and in Timor-Leste. In the past two months, we have been able to train 18 doctors, nurses and health workers from the Northern Territory and Timor-Leste to use the Vscan to pick up the signs of rheumatic heart disease and get children on to life-saving treatment early. And now, just this week, Dr Bo Reményi and I have been working with a large team, including 4 Aboriginal health workers, using the Vscan machines as part of a school screening project that is changing and saving lives. We have used the Vscan machines to do echos on nearly 500 children in Arnhem Land, and every day this week we have found new cases of rheumatic heart disease, some of them severe. All of these children have commenced on penicillin injections, which are the key treatment for rheumatic heart disease, and at least one child will be referred for life-saving cardiac surgery interstate. The impact of this contribution will continue beyond this week, as we plan to screen more than 2000 students in Timor-Leste in April using the same machines.

The Aboriginal health workers who have learned the skills needed to identify rheumatic heart disease using these handheld machines, will have a sustained impact on early detection, treatment and prevention of rheumatic heart disease in their communities. One of them said to me, when I dropped him home last night, “Josh, I really love this opportunity you have given me. Scanning these kids in my community, as one of their own countrymen, it makes me feel so proud.” 

I am hoping that we will be able to support these workers to continue using their newly developed echo skills, by providing them with handheld echo devices that can be used in an ongoing capacity in Maningrida, Tenant Creek, and other communities in the future. We also want to be able to explore newer technology which allows an echo / ultrasound echo probe to be attached to an iPhone or tablet device, providing excellent images with an extremely portable system. The potential impact that could come from expanding this approach to rheumatic heart disease detection is enormous. 

The generosity of people who donate to the Humpty Dumpty Foundation is amazing – I hope those who donate realise how much they are helping to change the lives of children, and also health staff, here in remote communities of the Northern Territory.

With many thanks,
Dr Josh Francis, Paediatrician & Infectious Diseases Specialist, Royal Darwin Hospital