Major boost for young cancer patients at Cape Town children's hospital

Seven-year-old Mikah Saunders with her dad, Deon Saunders, in the new upgraded oncology-haematology unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town.
Seven-year-old Mikah Saunders with her dad, Deon Saunders, in the new upgraded oncology-haematology unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Rondebosch celebrated an upgraded oncology-haematology unit on Thursday, with the help of a seven-year-old cancer survivor who spoke about the support she had received.

Chantel Cooper, CEO of the Children's Hospital Trust, told those gathered at the launch: “The upgraded unit has new ECG monitors, private consulting rooms, two isolation cubicles for vulnerable patients, fully-equipped ablution facilities for families, and a counselling room for the social worker.”

She added: “The little patients, their families and staff spend a considerable amount of time in the unit and the upgrade not only provides much needed space from a clinical point of view, it also provides patients and their families a significant degree of comfort while they are in the unit.”

Seven-year-old Mikah Saunders was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in June, and to celebrate her fight against the disease, she said she hoped to inspire other children and families fighting this illness.

She thanked those who helped her through her recovery: “I’m thankful to be with my family. Thank you to the doctors and nurses who help the children get better and to the people who donate to the hospital.”

The upgrade and expansion provide a safer environment, added comfort and privacy for the 2,000 children admitted, and 5,000 outpatient visitors who rely on the services annually.

Saunders' mother, Dorienda, shared her family's experience during their stay while the hospital was being upgraded.

“Even during the time the contractors were busy, there was actually no disturbance and we didn’t feel uncomfortable. The results are so beautiful.

“Even for the parents, we had to walk a distance to use the loo and showers, but now it’s amazing and everything is right close to the children,” she said.

Head of the Red Cross Children's Hospital oncology-haematology unit, Professor Alan Davidson.
Head of the Red Cross Children's Hospital oncology-haematology unit, Professor Alan Davidson.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Professor Alan Davidson, head of the unit, said: “We put patients first and focus on providing patient and family-centred care and we have fun. In the midst of all the craziness we still manage to have a laugh. And when the kids and their parents laugh with us, we know we are doing our jobs properly,” he said.

“The hospital is extremely grateful to donors who have come on board to fund this much needed upgrade of the oncology unit. The renovated areas will assist hospital staff to provide family-centred care at a time that is very distressing for parents and families of children being treated for cancer," said medical services manager Dr Anita Parbhoo.


X