The South East Radiotherapy Trust announced this week that it had succeeded in raising sufficient funds to purchase a special vehicle to transport patients to the radio-therapy treatment centre in Whitfield in Waterford. The facility is part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre which proscribes the treatment to be carried out in Waterford.
There is a service level agreement between the HSE and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre for treatment of public patients so there is no discrimination and the service is available to all who require it.
In the region of €40,000 was raised in a special draw from the sale of 4000 tickets, which was more than enough to purchase the vehicle. There will also be a substantial donation to the Heart Ward in Waterford Regional Hospital through the auspices of Dr. Broin McNeill.
The new vehicle will be a people carrier or 7 seater which will be converted for use by patients with 3 usually travelling per trip with a volunteer driver. There are now such vehicles in Waterford, Dungarvan, Kilkenny and Wexford.
All the cancer patients are currently going to Whitfield, as opposed to Cork or Dublin, having been collected from their homes. They are brought into the radio therapy unit, given treatment and returned home thus easing the burden on relatives, friends and the ambulance system. Each radio therapy treatment lasts about minutes per daily session with 5 to 7 weeks of treatment all together.
Another vehicle has been purchased which will be based in Dungarvan to assist patients in West Waterford and East Cork that would be going to Cork where they would have had primary treatment.
For the future, there is an intention to purchase vehicles for South Tipperary patients going to Whitfield and also for Carlow and North Wexford patients going to Dublin. Dr. Watson, Chairman of the South East Radio Therapy Trust, said the money raised was ‘really fantastic’.
Dr. Watson expressed much appreciation to John Brennan and his staff at the Uluru, Ardkeen, Waterford as well as to Albert Mecher, Johnny and Laura Fan of the Fan Dynasty Restaurant, Ardkeen, for their huge fundraising work and purchase of prizes. They made a huge effort and worked hard selling tickets and it was only through their generosity that the event took place, added Dr. Watson. All the money raised went into the fund with no administration or prize costs.
The charity, in addition, is very grateful to the voluntary drivers who are the back bone of the service and give their time free of charge. There is also an ambulance ready to run between WRH to Whitfield, where they hope to recruit a driver to facilitate WRH in- patients needing treatment. Those interested in becoming volunteer drivers should contact Dr. Gordon Watson of the South East Radio Therapy Trust on 051-848877.
The Trust and organisers are grateful to all who purchased tickets and who assisted in promoting the draw through selling from various outlets and directly. Dr. Watson also thanked the media, with the Munster Express and WLR publicising the fund raising event regularly.
The winner of the first prize was Sue Kavanagh of Riverpark Waterford who will be off to the Beijing Olympics for seven days. Second prize went to Seamus Keating of Drogheda and third prize was won by Helena Byrne of Dungarvan, who is off to Hong Kong. There were over 40 other prize winners and will be listed in next week’s edition of the Munster Express.