A Jersey doctor has helped to stock a children’s hospital opened by Madonna in Malawi after learning that it lacked critical life-saving equipment.
The ‘Material Girl’ superstar (58) opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care – named after her adopted Malawian daughter – in a ceremony last month.
Funded by Madonna’s ‘Raising Malawi’ charity, the Centre is the first of its kind in the East-African country, which suffers from widespread HIV-Aids, responsible for claiming thousands of lives every year. It will form part of the wider Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the city of Blantyre.
Speaking alongside 11-year-old Mercy James at the grand opening, Madonna described the children’s health institute, which includes indoor and outdoor play areas and inspirational murals curated by the popstar herself, as a “world-class intensive hospital”.
However, just days later, Jersey doctor Michael Marks, who has worked extensively with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital through his decades-long work with his Bush Hospital Foundation charity, was informed that the new centre lacked certain vital life-saving equipment.
“So they funded the hospital, but it was that classic you build a building, it looks beautiful, it’s got ‘Mercy James Paediatric Surgical Unit’ written across it in large letters, but they lacked certain critical bits of equipment – and I had in my hand the ability to deliver it,” he told Express.
That crucial machinery included portable oxygen and anaesthetic delivery devices worth £11,000 to allow newborn babies to move across difficult terrains while receiving emergency support.
Pictured: The specialist baby unit in action saving lives in Uganda, which will be delivered to Malawi this week.
“Newborns that have been delivered down the road, and down the road in Malawi can be– well, I remember I visited one hospital with my wife and we had to cross 27 rivers to get there,” Dr Marks explained.
“So this is a mobile paediatric intensive care unit, and it enables newborns in trouble or needing surgical attention to be moved from the periphery in a portable ventilator with a portable anaesthetic machine, with an oxygen reservoir. All of it goes into the back of a van and they can move patients around the country easily and bring them to the centres of excellence.”
The equipment was cleared by Customs in Blantyre Airport and was delivered to the site last week.
This is just one of many victories in Africa for Dr Marks’ charity. Over decades, the Bush Hospital Foundation has helped to establish medical centres and provided essential equipment to medical institutes across the continent.
Pictured: The new anaesthesia machine - funded by the Bush Hospital Foundation - can be operated out of a portable suitcase.
The foundation has also sent over 20 Land Rovers to East African countries - six of which to Malawi alone – to be used for nutrition centre outreach, field research and as ambulances by mission hospitals in remote zones. One of the trucks, which is over 30 years old, is still in operation in Kenya today.
Robert Neighbour, Director of Diamedica – the company behind the "Africa-friendly" life-saving portable equipment – praised Dr Marks’ most recent efforts.
“We have worked with Mike Marks for around 10 years and supplied equipment for many of the locations he has worked in. He is dedicated to helping hospitals in low-resource environments and knows very well the issues medical professionals face in these circumstances.
Pictured: One of the Land Rovers funded by the Bush Hospital Foundation at Kaloleni, a mission hospital near Mombassa, Kenya.
“This equipment will help the hospital provide treatment to more children who need it so badly. It is designed to function well in such settings and we are delighted to know it will be put to good use under Mike’s guidance.”
While the Diamedica team may have been full of praise, asked about Madonna's response, Dr Marks responded: "Madonna I have yet to meet, and probably never will. But it was great to do."
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