Breakthrough for Gauteng's cancer kids

Posted on January 05, 2011

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Young cancer patients get high-tech public sector isolation room

South African children with cancer, who currently have no access to private hospitals, are set to benefit from the opening of Gauteng’s very first public sector isolation room at a state hospital. The new isolation room officially opened at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria in October 2010.

The state of the art facility will enable immune-compromised children, who have undergone stem cell transplants or chemotherapy, to stay in isolation for up to three months after surgery. The reduction of air-borne pathogens will reduce children’s vulnerability to infection and facilitate faster recovery. In the end this should reduce the duration of hospitalisation.

The Oncology Department's Dr David Reynders said: “The isolation room offers us the ability to give far more toxic treatment to patients by offering high dose chemotherapy or giving them a new set of stem cells that have been lost. Most children who receive the stem cell transplant are patients who would essentially die without that sort of treatment. So, it’s patients whose bone marrow has either failed or filled with disease and those are the people who would benefit the most from the transplant. Up to now, this type or level of care has not been made available in state hospitals (in Gauteng, as The Cape and KZN have a similar facility), so this is something we as a unit worked towards and managed to develop a room to cater for those critical patients.”

According to Matron Josephine Phatoli of Steve Biko Academic (previously Pretoria Academic) Hospital's Oncology Department, the isolation room will admit mostly patients with haematological cancers and leukaemia, who have very low blood counts. The room has a bed, sink and TV set, to ensure comfort and an air filter has been fitted to ensure the air is very clean.

There’s little doubt that the new isolation room will improve the outcomes of curing cancer in children and Dr Reynders explains why: “The cure rate in children for cancer is very good and very high compared to adult cancer. You know many people, when they hear of cancer, they think of their short life span and that their people are going to probably die in the next eight months or so. Most of our patients are cured and go on to live healthy lives.”

Source: PedMed 2010

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