Funding needed for life-saving DNA machine for cancer patients at CUH

Peter O'Mahony, Munster and Ireland Rugby player with Gerry O'Dwyer, Chief Executive South/South West Hospital Group and Michael Nason, CEO Cork University Hospital Charity. Pic: Larry Cummins
By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

Rugby legend Peter O’Mahony is urging people to get behind a massive fundraising drive for a hi-tech DNA machine that will help fast-track personalised life-saving therapies for cancer patients.

As the Covid-19 restrictions ease, the Munster and Ireland star was at Cork University Hospital (CUH) at the weekend to support staff from its pathology department as they set off on a 650km Ring of Munster challenge between CUH and UCC to raise funds for the near €500,000 cancer sequencing device.

They were joined elsewhere around the province and the world by supporters of the CUH Charity initiative, who also got involved in the run.

CUH’s pathology department is one of the largest accredited labs in Ireland delivering cancer pathology services for hospitals across Munster.  Its 100-strong team, which includes pathologists and scientists, deal with more than 60,000 specimens annually with about 80% of their resources and effort directed towards cancer. Their analysis of tumours plays a key role in the treatment decisions made by oncologists.

However, some patients whose biopsies are outsourced to Dublin or overseas can face a two-week wait for results — a wait which can feel like an eternity following a cancer diagnosis.

The groundbreaking DNA sequencing machine they want to buy can run tests for multiple genetic abnormalities in each cancer specimen at the same time. Crucially, it can deliver results within 24 hours.

The machine will allow the lab to create a comprehensive molecular profile of a tumour from each individual patient that will in turn be used to guide the oncologist’s decision around a truly personalised cancer therapy. As well as improving cancer patient quality of life and survival, the technology will also help CUH to take part in more advanced and more specialised clinical trials.

Included (front right) is Peter OPic: Larry Cummins'>
Included (front right) is Peter O'Mahony, Munster and Ireland Rugby player with participants and representatives of the Army, Gardai, Navy, Cork City Fire Brigade and the HSE National Ambulance Service who supported the fundraising event.
Pic: Larry Cummins

CUH Charity CEO, Michael Nason, said the medical experts at CUH need and deserve the best equipment: “We have world class people working here at CUH and we need to ensure that they have access to world-class equipment."

Following the weekend’s run, the charity has raised around €285,000 of the €450,000 required for the new hi-tech device.

Mr O’Mahony is urging people to consider the worthy cause as restrictions ease and life returns to a new normal.

The fundraising campaign is being supported by the Fenton family who lost their daughter and sister, Karen, to cancer in 2017. The Karen Fenton Ovarian Cancer Fund set up in her memory has raised €75,000 for the machine.

The CUH Charity put €100,000 towards the machine and needs to fundraise for the balance. They hope to have enough funds raised by August to buy the machine.

The fundraising campaign for this machine was launched on May 8, to coincide with World Ovarian Cancer Day.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the fundraising can donate at www.idonate.ie/CUHCCancerCampaign, or by contacting the CUH Charity

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