finance

BlackCircles entrepreneur's charity brings life-changing laser surgery to Scotland



A charity set up by BlackCircles entrepreneur Michael Welch has donated £140,000 to help bring a cutting-edge open brain surgery to Scotland.

The Welch Trust, in partnership with Edinburgh’s Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) and NHS Lothian, will bring MRI-guided Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP).

The donation from the trust has paid for the majority of the £220,000 cost, with the rest paid for by donations to the ECHC.

Children and young people living with severe epilepsy in Scotland will have a chance to become seizure free with the new treatment, which uses a laser to remove the brain tissue that is causing them.

The technology should reduce the surgery time to around two hours – from seven hours – and both is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time compared to open brain surgery.

It is expected that up to six children a year could benefit from the laser surgery, aged from infants to adolescents, with a similar number of adults also benefiting annually.

LITT surgery is currently only available at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and a hospital in Houston, Texas.

The laser equipment will be part of the Scottish National Paediatric Epilepsy Surgery Service, based at the RHCYP in Edinburgh.

It is expected to arrive in summer 2021, followed by a period of intensive training prior to the first surgery taking place.

Victoria Welch, trustee at the Welch Trust, said: “As a paediatric nurse, I understand the importance of having the best equipment in the hospital to expedite the curing of patients with complicated conditions and ultimately save lives.

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“Our focus continues to be to invest in high impact programmes that save lives or significantly improve the quality of life for very sick or terminally ill children.”

Roslyn Neely, chief executive at ECHC, added: “Having the laser surgery available in Edinburgh gives families more choice in their place of care and means they will no longer need to endure the financial and emotional cost of national or international travel and separation at a very stressful time.”

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