Walking into the Emergency Department at the Perth Children’s Hospital with their sick two-year-old daughter Amelia, Brianna and Russell felt…
One in five children in Western Australia has a respiratory disease. It is the leading cause of hospitalisation for children under the age of four.
Children with asthma, bronchitis, chronic lung disease and cystic fibrosis present in their hundreds to Perth Children’s Hospital each year. The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. Breathing is hard work for these children.
Imagine feeling unable to breathe, desperate to catch a breath – it is very frightening and immensely stressful for young children and their families. For many of these kids, it is a constant struggle to get air into their lungs.
Seasonal and environmental triggers such as viruses, pollen and smoke from burn offs cause significant and severe complications for children with pre-existing respiratory disease. Hospital teams brace themselves for the inevitable increase in hospital admissions – always striving to detect and treat infections before serious symptoms emerge.
- 33% of Australians report chronic respiratory diseases
- 30% of all child hospital admissions are due to respiratory conditions
- Asthma alone costs Australia $28 billion per year
- over 110,000 children have a serious lung disease in Western Australia alone
- Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be hospitalised with an acute respiratory illness
- Aboriginal children are twice as likely to die from respiratory disease
At Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation, we are doing everything we can to help children breathe easier. Funding critical research and specialised training, building the expertise of hospital teams alongside the provision of life-saving equipment and finding better ways to support the mental health of children with serious respiratory disease is hugely important.
Your generous donations have been critical to our efforts.
Teenager Joel is a regular and long-term patient at the hospital. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a common and severe, life threatening respiratory disease that causes permanent lung damage. Sadly there is currently no cure and the average life expectancy of children with CF is 36 years.
For infants born with severe respiratory conditions like Joel, an intensive treatment program lies ahead – constant physiotherapy, daily medication and frequent clinic appointments. As his disease progresses, Joel is admitted every three months for an intensive two week ‘tune-up’, under the care of our respiratory medicine specialists.
Supporting world class teaching and research
You can imagine that children with serious respiratory illnesses like Joel, often have a very disrupted education. They also struggle to connect with peers, as their families try to isolate them from the relentless risk of infection.
The Foundation is funding research to develop a smartphone app that practically supports the social development and mental health of young people with CF. With the lived experience of young people like Joel at the heart of the app’s development – and in partnership with Monash Children’s Hospital – our researchers are looking to make the Cy-Fi Space app more user-friendly, practical and effective.
Making sure that children with serious respiratory conditions in Western Australia get the very best medical care available, depends upon excellence in expertise, training and leadership. With your support, the Foundation funds a Professorial Chair of Respiratory Medicine, promoting a world class standard in teaching and supporting vital research projects in this field.
A critical area of new research involves examining the treatments for respiratory infections using alternatives to anti-biotics. We have also funded a fellowship awarded to Dr Adelaide Withers for a critical trial comparing the effectiveness of various asthma treatments in reducing the risk of severe complications. Supporting on-going research projects like these will definitely improve the medical outcomes for these sick children.
Acquiring critical, life changing equipment
The generosity of the WA community has enabled the Foundation to purchase a wide range of respiratory equipment.
Hand held spirometers, a device that measures the movement of air in and out of the lungs, are invaluable in the diagnosis of different lung diseases. They help to pinpoint the cause of shortness of breath and measure the progress of disease, treatment or medication.
Maintaining regular access to Perth Children’s Hospital and respiratory specialists is a challenge for our young patients who live in regional and remote areas. These spirometers are a critical tool of the Lung Outreach program reducing the need for lengthy hospital stays and isolation from their families. Each year more and more families require this support.
Blood analysis machines accurately identify the bacteria and viruses that cause irreversible lung damage in patients like Joel. This information helps our clinicians to target them with the most appropriate drugs and treatments. With your help, we have been able to purchase more of these ‘Digital Chain Reaction Time’ machines for the hospital’s Children’s Clinical Research Facility.
Ventilators are in high demand. Sadly every year, over 700 sick babies require very high dependency care. Many of these infants have respiratory complications and require specialist equipment to assist them to breathe. With your help the Foundation has been able to purchase much needed ventilators for the Neonatal Intensive Care and Paediatric Critical Care units. We are incredibly thankful for your support.
Our work is on-going. There is so much more we want to do to help young patients with respiratory disease.
All donations raised through our appeal will be dedicated to saving the lives of children with serious respiratory disease.
Take a deep breath this Christmas. Help us – to help these children – breathe more easily this Christmas.