Whakaari/White Island: Middlemore National Burns Centre gets $100k for rehab machines

7:53 pm on 23 January 2020

Middlemore Foundation's public plea for money to fund machines to help rehabilitate Whakaari/White Island volcano eruption victims has secured upwards of $100,000.

Middlemore Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Late last year after the Whakaari / White Island eruption which has killed 20 people, foundation chief executive Sandra Geange said Middlemore Hospital's National Burns Centre in South Auckland was "short on a couple of pieces of equipment" needed to treat badly burnt patients during medium-to-long term rehabilitation.

One of the machines, a Sonosite ultrasound, would cost Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) between $60,000 and $70,000.

A $25,000 a specialised skin graft machine called a MEEK mesher was also needed.

"They've got one in the ... National Burns Unit and they probably could do with two, or maybe even three," Geange said.

On Thursday, Geange said more than $100,000 was donated to the National Burns Centre the week following the public appeal, announced on 19 December.

"We have continued to receive donations this year at quite significant levels," she said.

An ultrasound machine had been purchased for the burns centre's intensive care unit, as well as skin grafting equipment and entertainment devices for patients.

Despite Geange's plea, National Burns Service coordinator Tracey Perrett said while public generosity was "appreciated" the burns centre had enough equipment to meet clinical needs.

Geange last year said CMDHB had been in discussions with Health Minister David Clark regarding extra funding.

"I think the government are certainly coming to the party from what I hear, and that's something that Counties Manukau Health are doing," she said.

"But there will always be a shortfall and there are many that have been supportive of ... the National Burns Centre."

To date, it remained unclear how the government was planning on supporting the DHB in the wake of the eruption. The Health Minister's office has been approached for comment.

Meanwhile, a Givealittle page set up to support the recovery of 19-year-old White Island Tours guide Jake Milbank, who suffered burns to 80 percent of his body, has raised more than $140,000.

Milbank was recently moved from the intensive care unit at Middlemore Hospital to the National Burns Centre.

"This is a big step in my road to recovery. So far I have had 14 visits to theatre - sometimes the surgeons are grafting parts of my body and other times they are changing my dressings and checking out the progress of the work they have done," he wrote on the Givealittle page.

On Thursday, the two people missing, presumed dead after the Whakaari/White Island eruption were officially declared dead by the Chief Coroner.

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