Donations inject life into haematology research for South Island

Thursday February 21, 2013

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) Chief Executive David Meates has presented a cheque for $32,392.37 to Southern DHB’s Haematology Department to set up a Clinical Trials Unit at Dunedin Hospital.
The money was donated by the Ruth Spearing Cancer Research Trust.
Southern DHB Consultant Haematologist Dr Shingi Chiruka, together with Haematology Research Nurse Janene Oliver, was presented with the cheque at a small gathering in Christchurch this week.
Mr Meates said the donation was a positive example of DHBs working together to improve patient care.
“It’s with fair degree of delight that we have our Dunedin colleagues here today.
“This is just another great example in terms of setting up services that collectively benefit our communities.
“Not only does it strengthen research for both Christchurch and Dunedin, it broadens the bases across the South Island and that’s just fantastic,” Mr Meates said.
Dr Chiruka said since starting at Dunedin 18 months ago, he has been keen to get a Haematology research unit up and running.
The most important thing is patient care. The advantage of having research in hospital is you can access treatments that you normally would not have access to – improving clinical knowledge and practice in the long run for the patient,” Dr Chiruka said.
“We are really grateful for this donation. It is a positive development for us and we’re keen to keep going in expanding our work together (with CDHB).”
The Ruth Spearing Trust was founded in 2008 thanks to $100,000 bequeathed by the late Christchurch businessman Barry Mather (owner of Mr Pickwicks the second hand shop that used to be on Fitzgerald Ave) after he lost his battle with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Dr Ruth Spearing, CDHB Consultant Haematologist said that clinical trials were fundamental in improving patient care in terms of gaining knowledge and access to new types of medication.
Heather Lamond who was the first patient in New Zealand to be entered into the Medical Research Council Leukaemia trials back in 1998, also attended the cheque presentation.
Dr Spearing said that at that time Heather started the trials the five year survival for acute myeloid leukaemia was only 2%.
“By the time the trial finished recruiting seven years later the New Zealand figures had increased up to 42% survival.”
Several hundred patients have been entered into these international Haematology Trials since Christchurch first created its trials unit, now managed by Jo Sanders.
“The $32,000 donation will enable patients in the Southern DHB to have access to the trials and therefore the new leading edge drugs that are available to people in the Canterbury region,” Dr Spearing said.
A further cheque for $1000 was donated by Chris Earl on behalf of his brother Dennis McQuire, who had lived his life to its absolute fullest despite having acute leukaemia for the last three years.

(L-R) David Meates, CDHB Chief Executive; Dr Shingi Chiruka, Southern DHB Consultant Haematologist; Janene Oliver, Southern DHB Haematology Research Nurse; Dr Ruth Spearing, CDHB Consultant Haematologist.

For further information, please see our Media Guide page.
Page last reviewed: 09 July 2013