Dozens of former bone marrow transplant patients who underwent transplants at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHSC) have been joined by their families to help celebrate the refurbishment of the hospital's newly-refurbished Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit. The BMT Unit has been officially re-opened this afternoon, following an extensive programme of upgrading and expansion. The upgrade was made possible in part thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Former patients and their families attended the celebration, alongside some of the other donors whose generosity helped make the renovation possible. The BMT Unit currently transplants around 10 - 15 paediatric or adolescent patients each year and caters for children and young people from across Scotland. The new upgrade means that these young patients are able to remain in the necessary strict clinical isolation but can, for the first time, have access to natural daylight.
Until now, children and teenagers who have had bone marrow transplants at the BMT Unit were in rooms with very strict isolation requirements that meant no windows or dedicated toilet facilities. However, developments in technology have allowed the refurbishment to incorporate both skylights and private toilet facilities in each of the refurbished rooms.
The newly refurbished cubicles now have en-suite and skylight facilities added to give natural daylight. They are now bigger, brighter and more comfortable. They have been redesigned to provide much more privacy for the older teenage patients being transplanted and are considerably more user-friendly. All of the cubicles have improved filtration systems, moving from laminar flow to hepa-filtration.
Consultant Haematologist Dr Brenda Gibson explains: "The old facilities were in use for over 25 years and came with us when we moved from Ward 7A to the Schiehallion Unit in 1996. They were state-of-the-art for the time, but technology has moved on so much that we are now able to provide a much more cheerful, comfortable and private environment.
"It's difficult to imagine what it means to see daylight until you're deprived of that, and for a young person to live solely in that environment for three or four weeks when they're already ill can be quite dispiriting.
"We are enormously grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and to all those other donors - including those families who have fundraised over many years - for helping to make the refurbishment possible."
Big Lottery Fund Scotland Director Dharmendra Kanani said: ''Going in for an operation for anyone can be a scary experience. Having a life saving transplant can be even more traumatic especially if you are young. Making the rooms in which young folk from across Scotland spend time recovering from their treatment more comfortable with access to natural light and healthy places so that they have a better environment that meets their needs is an example of how the BIG Lottery Fund can reach parts that other funders are not able to and really add value to the NHS in Scotland.''
Two additional double-door cubicles have also been refurbished, with more room space and windows and these can be used for additional transplants if necessary, or to move patients following the most intensive part of their treatment. Now that the refurbishment is complete, the BMT service will now move forward with the appointment of a Transplant Sister, in preparation for the move to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's new Children's Hospital in 2011.
In addition to core funding for the service from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, the Unit has also been the grateful recipient of many years of active fundraising from patients, friends, families and other organisations over more than two decades. Dr Gibson said: "The staff, children and their families wish to thank the Big Lottery Fund and all other donors who have made this refurbishment possible".