Children’s Lifesavers ‘amazing work’

Volunteers and staff pictured with children undergoing treatment at the University Hospital in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam. (1501EB02CIC)

Volunteers and staff pictured with children undergoing treatment at the University Hospital in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam. (1501EB02CIC)

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There’s no doubt that Children in Crossfire Director Richard Moore can be proud of a huge number of achievements when it comes to improving the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

With the support the organisation are currently giving to a paediatric cancer ward in a Tanzanian hospital, the lives of hundreds of sick children are being saved.

A child receives intravenous treatment for cancer in The University Hospital in Dar es Salaam where Children in Crossfire have made substantial improvements to facilities. (1501EB05CIC)

A child receives intravenous treatment for cancer in The University Hospital in Dar es Salaam where Children in Crossfire have made substantial improvements to facilities. (1501EB05CIC)

Such is the impact the charity has made that survival rates for children admitted to the ward after a cancer diagnosis have rocketed from 12 to 60 per cent since they became involved in 2008.

As the only Paediatric Oncologist in Tanzania, Irish doctor Trish Scanlon has worked closely with Children in Crossfire since taking up her post.

Having initially arrived in Tanzania to study for her Masters Thesis, Trish found enthusiastic care givers who had little or no resources.

“The situation was dire,” she says.

“The staff were very keen to do their best but they had nothing. They’d had very little teaching, they didn’t have the drugs they needed. The hospital we’re based in is the University Hospital in Dar es Salaam and it’s the largest one in Tanzania. We see around 400 children with cancer every year whereas somewhere like Crumlin Hospital in Dublin would treat around 150.

“The numbers we’re dealing with are growing as well as word spreads. Because Tanzania is so vast and rural we get people coming from hundreds of miles away in the hope that we can do something for their children.”

Before Children in Crossfire became involved, Trish and her team were making the best of the little resources they had available to them.

“The wards only had nurses working up until 4pm in the evening and then they’d go home and the children would be on their own until the next morning. We didn’t have the drugs we needed to help make the children comfortable and now we do.”

Trish says she’s constantly inspired by the strength and bravery of the children who are treated in the ward and the warmth of their parents.

“You see these kids coming in. They can’t walk or breathe and their bellies are so swollen and you really fear from them. Sometimes I see them being admitted and I’ll come in the next day and the bed is empty. I’ll ask whether they died overnight and I’m often told that they’ve received treatment and are up and back at school. That’s how instant the impact can be sometimes. Kids don’t want to be lying in bed. As soon as they’re able, they want to be up and about again and they are so so brave.

“Then, when there are children we can’t save and we have to tell the parents they are always so gragteful and understanding. Their first reaction is always to thank us for treating their child because many of them have waited years for some help. They’re amazing people.”

Richard Moore describes Trish as “an amazing woman doing incredible work.”

“This project, under Trish’s leadership, is literally saving lives,” he adds.

“It brings great hope for the future because we can improve survival rates even further with the right support. We want to thank the people of Derry for their ongoing generosity and encourage them to keep giving to Children in Crossfire so that we can keep making a difference.”