STATE-of-the art specialised surgical burns equipment to the value of R500000 was handed over to the Frere and Cecilia Makiwane Hospitals last Wednesday.
Three successful fundraisers helped raise the desperately needed money to buy the equipment which will be used to treat children who suffer burns. The Frere Hospital Board purchased equipment for the Carte Blanche Theatre for R250000. Identical equipment for the children’s burns unit in Cecilia Makiwane was made available by the Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust, thanks to fundraising over the last 18-months.
The equipment is critical, especially in an area that sees regular shack fires, many caused by and involving children, which sometimes sees children left with major burns.
Rock climber Garvin Jacobs climbed 40 routes in a day in November 2014, raising R140000 for the equipment.
Late last year, a team of older, social cyclists completed the Rob Burton Memorial Ride from East London to Stellenbosch over a four-day period before completing the Stellenbosch cycle tour. The “Grandads Army” managed to raise R240000.
In addition to this, a gala dinner with former Miss South Africa and Miss World, Rolene Strauss, raised another R100000. Chair of the Eyabantwana Trust, Dave Morrell, said: “It is a privilege and an honour to see the fruits of our endeavours. The response of the East London community and beyond has been amazing. It is wonderful to see how the population has risen up to support this worthy cause.
“If anything can arouse compassion, it is a burnt child. “The experience is awful and the child is often traumatised both mentally and physically”.
Serving one of the poorest provinces is a major challenge with financial constraints impacting heavily on the department’s capacity to upgrade equipment.
The trust was established to support the work of the department of paediatric surgery at both hospitals that make up the East London Hospital Complex which serve as the main referral centres for children requiring complex surgery in the Eastern Cape.
Chair of Frere Hospital Board Helmut Fritsche said: “This is an extraordinarily positive event that has proved all critics wrong and has been outstandingly effective”.
Paediatric surgeon Colin Lazarus spoke favourably of the late Arthur Salzwedel, who formed an integral part of the “Grandads Army”.
He died earlier this year after riding into a pothole on the North East Expressway during a training ride.
It has been announced that another Rob Burton Memorial Ride will take place at the end of this year.
Lazarus said they will assess areas of need closer to the time and commit to raise funds for another worthwhile cause.