Starship’s new eye scanning kit is transforming kids’ lives

A new piece of equipment has been donated to Starship Hospital that will help ophthalmologist with their diagnoses.

A top piece of diagnostic technology will allow a tiny ‘princess’ to get more accurate medical treatment for her vision impairment.

Wheelchair-bound Amira Said, 4, is one of scores of children benefiting from the piece of medical technology bought by Auckland’s Starship Hospital, a first in Australasia.
Amira, Arabic for princess, was born with global development delay and small eyes, a medical condition known as microphthalmia.
“Accurate diagnosis gives families closure on problems,” 15 year pediatric specialist Dr Shuan Dai said.

Underlying Amira’s developmental difficulties is ‘Trisomy 9 Mosaic, a rare from birth genetic, or chromosome disorder.

But since day two of Amira’s life, Starship paediatric ophthalmologist Dr Shuan Dai and staff have tried to diagnose exactly what’s wrong with Amira’s eyes.
It’s now hoped the hospital’s brand new, $121,000 Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) eye scanner bought by the Starship Foundation but paid for by power company Mercury’s customers will give Amira and her family a full diagnoses leading to effective treatment.

Thanks to Auckland’s Starship Hospital’s new Optical Coherence Tomography scanner, eye patients like Amira Said, 4, will get faster diagnosis and effective treatment, Dr Shuan Dai said.
“We’ve always struggled [with eyes], if we can’t see, we can’t make the right diagnosis,” Dai said.
“Like any medical condition if you don’t know the diagnosis, any treatment will be limited, when we can make an accurate diagnosis we can make the best available treatment.
The American-made OCT scanner uses infrared light to create three-dimensional images of patient’s eyes – it can even be used during surgical procedures, he added.

Dai’s paediatric unit, which sees thousands of patients coming from all over New Zealand each year, is now able to work faster and more efficiently thanks to the scanner.

And Dai said the scanner often helps patients like Amira avoid traumatic, invasive medical procedures in the first place.
“We don’t have to go on doing any more under-anaesthetic MRI’s,” he said.
Amira’s mum Andrea Norton said her daughter, who cannot see, has already undergone two under-anaesthetic procedures, just so doctors could check her eyes.

“She’s very sensitive around her eyes – telling her to keep still and getting her to open her eyes to shine a light in there is next to impossible,” Andrea said.
Andrea and husband Mohamed are “very excited” about how the new equipment could help their daughter, yet Andrea stays cautious.
“I don’t know if it’s a load off our mind, it could just open up a pandora’s box really, but it will give us an answer.”

She’s less equivocal about people’s generosity funding the scanner, offering Mercury customers a “heartfelt thanks”.

“The fact customers have donated when paying their power bills has created the opportunity to get the funding for this machine, thanks to everyone who has donated, it’s much appreciated.”
The Starship Foundation aims to raise $10 million per year to help treat young New Zealanders has previously funded a childrens’ air ambulance, paediatric research, family support and refurbished kids hospital wards.

To support Starship through your power bill, go to www.mercury.co.nz/starship