Scanner appeal mum hails ‘amazing news’

Helen Toland with a sketch of her late son Patrick. (1704JB01)
Helen Toland with a sketch of her late son Patrick. (1704JB01)

The mother of a Derry schoolboy who died from a rare blood disorder has welcomed an investment of £2.75 million for an MRI scanner at a children’s hospital in Belfast.

Fifteen years-old Patrick Toland, from College Glen, passed away in January of last year just weeks after being diagnosed with Haemophagocytosis - a disease that affects just one in 50,000 people.

Patrick’s mum, Helen, later raised more than £30,000 towards a scanner for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where the St Columb’s College student was treated in the days before his tragic death.

Hundreds of people - including scores of Patrick’s friends - took part in a charity walk organised by Helen.

Helen told the ‘Journal’ last night: “This is amazing news. Today is a bright day after so many dark days.

“The people of Derry who donated money towards the scanner appeal should feel very proud today. Their role in this has been inestimable. I’d like to think that their contribution - particularly that of the many young people who took part in the walk and helped to ensure that Patrick’s memory will never be forgotten - will be recogonised, in some way.”

Helen says securing an MRI scanner for the Royal was “always crucial”.

“A lot of these children need constant care and, yet, at the minute, they have to be transferred to the City Hospital for an MRI scan. This is the last thing they need. That’s why it was so important that we got a scanner for the children’s unit.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots yesterday announced an investment of £2.75 million for an MRI scanner at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

The Health and Social Care Board will provide ongoing running costs of £1.9 million per year.

A further £2m raised through the Scanner Appeal will be used towards the purchase and running costs.

The scanner will be used in the diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer.

“Ensuring access to appropriate diagnostic services is essential in the treatment of children.

“That is why the provision of MRI scanner services within the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children is a real priority,” said Mr Poots.

He also paid tribute to those like Helen Toland who raised funds for the scanner appeal.

“This partnership working will ensure this vital service is delivered and your commitment will make a real difference to the children and families in need of these facilities,” he said.

Work will now begin in securing the MRI scanner service for the children’s hospital. It is expected that work will be completed in 2013/14.

The total capital cost of the MRI Scanner is estimated at £4 million with additional running costs per year of £1.9m.