This week the bulletin is highlighting some of the activities of ROMAC - Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children

ROMAC Doctor Snapshot

Dr John Harvey is a paediatric surgeon at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and at Nepean Hospital in New South Wales. He specialises in burns treatment and is the head of Westmead’s Burns Unit, which cares for approximately 1200 children each year. He has a special interest in laser therapy for the management of burns scars and has played an instrumental role in introducing this as a treatment option for burns patients.
Dr Harvey became involved with ROMAC in 2004 when a 2-year-old girl with extensive burns was referred to the Burns Unit. A chance meeting with Phil Isaacs, long-time ROMAC supporter, led to funding for the child to have her burns successfully reconstructed.
In 2005, Dr Harvey co-founded the Burns Research Institute (CHBRI), a research arm of the Children’s Hospital Burns Unit focused on both clinical and laboratory-based burns research to improve treatment. His research work has assisted in pioneering the use of a new technique of Laser Doppler Imaging for predicting burns wound outcomes in children. His other research milestones include confirming cool running water as the optimal burns first aid and treatment in children, and determining the optimal time to graft a scald burn.
Dr Harvey continues to have a close relationship with ROMAC officers, who have been responsible for referring a number of children to the Children’s Hospital for burns treatment as well as facilitating visits overseas for the treatment of burns children in their own environment. For more about Dr Harvey and the wonderful work he does for ROMAC patients, read the story of Roberta from Fiji.

New Zealand Story

In October 2017, one-month-old Rosalia from Vanua Levu, Fiji, arrived at Christchurch Hospital for eye surgery. From birth, one of her eyes was slightly protruding and its condition worsened. Doctors feared it may be cancer and recommended immediate treatment at Christchurch Hospital because of the twinning arrangement which exists between Suva and Christchurch Hospitals.
On behalf of ROMAC, the Rotary Club of Cashmere very quickly accepted the responsibility of the care of Rosalia and her mother Veronika. Rotarians Murray and Dianne Pearce, walked to the hospital daily to support Veronika throughout the many appointments with specialists. Five surgeons operated for four hours, and although no cancer was found, her eye could not be saved. Within the month, Murray and Dianne put a very happy Veronika and her baby on a flight home to her husband and two sons.

In May 2018, Rosalia returned with her mother to have surgery to prepare her eye socket for a painted eye to be fitted. Rotarian support, medical treatment and accommodation in Ronald McDonald House at Christchurch Hospital were outstanding once again, providing Rosalia with everything she needed.

Australian Story

Mourine is a 14-year-old girl from the remote island of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands who was referred to ROMAC for a large, rapidly-growing mass on her neck.

Mourine and her mother Ekila arrived at Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick mid-January 2018. Her doctors diagnosed her mass as a benign Desmoid tumour, which grows in connective tissue. Initially, they thought they would surgically remove it, but then they decided to shrink it to a more manageable size with several rounds of chemotherapy, and perhaps radiotherapy. This meant Mourine had to stay longer in Australia so she was enrolled at the Sydney Children's Hospital School.

At first, Mourine was a very reluctant student because English was her second language and she had not been to school for 3 years due to the tumour and the destruction of her school in an earthquake. However, the dedicated teachers at the Hospital School quickly won her over and she soon became enthusiastic. Her grades in numeracy and English have steadily improved and she excels in art and music.

Mourine still has medical issues to resolve but she is now reconnected with her education which will brighten her future.

Source: ROMAC Newsletter